In terms of public safety, drones face contrasting opinions, even in now in 2019. Just as there are advocates there are also detractors. Yet, despite public trepidation, there’s a strong case to be made that first response drone technology may be the key to saving more lives.
Now, we know that’s a bold statement to make. After all, innovators in all fields work continuously to improve procedures in the event of emergency circumstances but hear us out. Here are five reasons why we believe drones to be invaluable in times of crisis – and why they will be symptomatic of first response in the years to come.
Search and Rescue
The potential for drones to assist first responders in search and rescue is as vast as it is obvious. Why? Drones can cover more ground, quicker. Traversing challenging terrain can be challenging for even the most seasoned search and rescue professional.
Using either aerial photography mapping or live video streaming helps search and rescue professionals to search a wider area – without ever having to navigate the terrain personally. Not only can this help professionals rescue lost or injured people or parties, it eradicates further risk.
For instance, in 2014, a drone was used to help locate ab 82-year old man who had been missing for three days. Upon searching a 200-acre field, the drone located the missing man in 20 minutes!
In the event of a medical emergency, drones have the potential to respond and deliver equipment faster the ground transportation. Ambulances are not immune from getting stuck in traffic. This can waste valuable time. In a situation where every second counts, lost seconds or minutes can make the difference between life and death.
Drones are now being used to transport medical supplies to the scene of an accident not just in the UAE, but across the globe. Paramedics in Canada employ drones to transport equipment to the scene of a medical emergency. From an EpiPen to a defibrillator, drones have the potential to carry a vast range of equipment.
What’s the benefit to this? Those in need of medical attention can gain access to vital equipment and treatment before the EMS even gets on the scene.
Infrared Camera Technology
It’s not uncommon for first responders to be faced with challenging, inhospitable or dangerous environments. These environments can make any search and rescue operation treacherous with poor visibility being a key attribute which transcends different operations.
Search and rescue drones can employ infrared aerial photography, providing enhanced visibility over the naked eye. This can be especially helpful for firefighters who can use drones to ascertain the hottest areas of a fire and discover how to safely and successfully navigate any environment.
Infrared cameras are also ideal at helping law enforcement officers to traverse locations that house dangerous suspects, alerting officers to where the suspect is and ensuring that suspects do not evade capture.
Sound communication is paramount when organising response efforts. Recently, communications have been exposed, with relief efforts drastically hindered by a lack of poor communication systems.
This was highlighted during the relief effort in the wake of hurricane Katrina. During the storm, winds reached 140mph, destroying the electrical grid and cellular towers. This made it more difficult for emergency responders to co-ordinate activities – and left much of New Orleans silent.
In situations like these, drones can act as Wi-Fi hotspots, helping to spread network coverage across areas where power lines or cellular towers may not be working. Telecommunication links can be achieved anywhere in the world, helping emergency services to co-ordinate all relief efforts.
We’ve already touched on how drones can prove invaluable in terms of disaster response. However, there are more ways than you may think to use a drone in any relief efforts. Sending a drone into a disaster area can give first responders a clear picture and thorough understanding of the situation, assist in locating hurt or injured parties, perform a structural analysis of affected buildings, deliver supplies and equipment – even help extinguish fires.
One of the largest inhibitors to the success of the hurricane Katrina response was the slow response time. Victims were left without food, water and medical supplies for days. Thousands crowded into the Superdome and remained there for five days after the storm had subsided.
Bureaucratic red tape was blamed for the less-than-swift response times. However, the sheer scope of the disaster dramatically reduced the ability for responders to use transportation to deliver much-needed supplies to affected areas.
Drones can act as logistical support to assist first responders in the event of a disaster. They don’t rely on transportation infrastructure to deliver vital supplies. Food, water and medical equipment can be sent to victims in desperate need of each.
Complete global adoption of drone technology to aid first responders is not a matter of if, but when. With an increasing amount of emergency services across the globe – opening their eyes to the potential of this technology, it won’t be long before the technology revolutionises first response protocols.