Search and rescue drones are beginning to grow in large numbers and are soon going to be anywhere humans will be. There are increasing numbers of people who are purchasing drones and voluntarily using them to help search and rescue efforts. One groups that has recently emerged is known as S.W.A.R.M. (Search With Aerial Rc Multirotors ). SWARM is a worldwide volunteer search and rescue network of over 1,100 search and rescue drone pilots dedicated to searching for missing persons. https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/sar-drones#/entity
Aerial search for lost persons is extremely costly with traditional fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. Small, very maneuverable unmanned aerial vehicles or drones could aid and support search efforts in many situations for a fraction of the cost, less risk, and using resources. This could transform search and rescue efforts in the future and make hikers and outdoor enthusiasts much safer in remote locations. https://www.microdrones.com/en/applications/areas-of-application/search-and-rescue/
You can even volunteer your own personal drone to do search and rescue missions by going to http://makezine.com/2015/12/15/how-to-volunteer-your-drone-for-search-and-rescue-missions/ and following the instructions. This type of community building is what’s going to give drones a very positive outlook.
One fairly recent search and rescue mission done by drones was in a severly flooded portion of Texas. A team from the FAA test site for drones in Texas spent part of Thursday afternoon flying a drone along the Blanco River. They were aiding search and recovery efforts following severe storms that killed an estimated 17 people from the floods.
McFarland,M. 2015. Drone Operators Assist Search and Rescue Efforts After Devastating Floods in Texas. The Washington Post Web. Accessed March 6, 2016 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/ 2015/05/29/drone-operators-assist-search-and-rescue-efforts-after-devastating-floods-in-texas/