The firefighter had been testing their personal drone for a commander when the hikers, stranded near a wooded hiking trail in New Mexico, called 911 on May 12. The firefighter’s decision to take the drone along on the search made all the difference in ensuring the mission’s ultimate success.

It only took an hour for the search crew, deployed by the Bernalillo County Fire Department, to locate the hikers and their dog, which was severely dehydrated and unable to walk. But the hikers had strayed from the beaten path, and by the time they were found the searchers had also become disoriented. And they were quickly running out of daylight.

So, they launched the firefighter’s drone. Once it had located the trail, the team back at command helped it send information back to the search party. The firefighters took turns carrying the dog as they followed the drone’s directions and eventually made it out.