Drone Use in Emergency Management Services

Rescue Drone

Drone Use in Emergency Management Services

Technology has come a long way in arming first responders with the tools to combat any situation. UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or better known as drones) are proof of that. With the ability to capture key footage (video or photo) easily without the use of more expensive equipment (i.e. helicopter and pilot) from any angle, drone use is widely utilized in emergency management agencies.  

Drone Search and Rescue

Search and rescue efforts can be expedited through the efforts of a drone, gaining vision from an aerial view of the search area. Scan areas faster and get to areas that are unsafe for personnel. Some drones even can carry items, such as emergency kits, medication, first aid kits, and two-way radios. Drones can act as communication platforms delivering wi-fi and cell service. Drones can be outfitted with infrared cameras or night vision to aid in quickly finding a subject. 

Drone Scene Documentation

Drones can digitally document damage created naturally or criminally which can be utilized for future disaster training or court testimony. They can serve as monitors for crowd control during large group gatherings. After a mass disaster, they can cover more area faster than multiple patrol personnel. UAV’s have the ability to monitor a larger area faster and have the ability to record its findings. 

Drone Inspections

Drones are faster and cheaper than conventional inspection techniques in a variety of fields. We’re not saying every situation can or should be inspected by technology and not an experienced human inspector. What we’re suggesting is it could save you and your team time, money, and save lives. UAV’s can: Search and scan abandoned buildings for safety and security concerns; Document structure changes over time; Inspect and possibly repair leaks to gas mains; Inspect structures that otherwise would require scaffolding or lift equipment easier and quicker. 

Damage and Risk Assessment

Use a drone to gain visibility during a fire, verify structure stability, access points and more. Drones are used for assessment of building damage after a collapse, when it is unsafe for personnel. Once the scene is controlled, use the drone to record damage. Utilize footage for ease of completing damage reports. FEMA approved. [source: FEMA]. 

Aerial Mapping/Data gathering

Utilize a drone to gather data for property planning and mapping. Drones can digitally map areas of land with high-resolution cameras. Utilize the maps for planning layouts, field and crop data gathering, plan reviews and land assessment. As drone technology improves, the use of these drones will also increase. The technology already exists to program drones before the flight. Lock on a subject and the drone will hover and follow, documenting their moves. This opens the door for documenting training simulations. These types of documentation are priceless. However, the cost of the drone is still a concern. 

The cost

The average cost of a drone is $499 [source: MyFirstDrone], with the (rare) most expensive drone topping the scale at $250,000. [source: Dronesbuy] Depending on your needs, the cost range is obviously wide. However, when you compare it to the costs of operating a standard helicopter at $1600 per hour, or Coast Guard patrol boat at $1147 per hour, the cost of owning and operating a drone is considerably less. [source: Sharples] Between 1992 to 2007, on average, there were 11.2 SAR (Search and Rescue) incidents each day at the cost of $895 per operation. [source: PubMed] I think we’ll see these costs decrease, as drone pilots are added to the emergency force,

Resources exist to assist you in purchasing, training, and software to aid in the use of the technology as well as private contractors that you can hire. Drones are here to stay; the only question is how will their use continue to assist first responders? As the use of Drone technology increase, you can rest assured, Codepal is following. We already have the ability to document planning, procedures, assessments and delivery data. As technology needs change, so can we. 

Tell us how you’re using Drones to assist in your field of expertise.


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