Fighting a raging fire is one of the toughest uphill battles in the public-safety world.
When the call comes, firefighters are forced to rush into a blaze or disaster scene with very little information – often having no idea of the size and scope of the fire nor how many potential victims may be cut off from rescue. The good news – drones have arrived and are fast becoming the firefighter’s secret weapon in the battle.
Being a First Responder is time sensitive. In the blink of an eye a situation can become desperate if the scene commander doesn't have all the information to make educated decisions. Emergency situations are not the time to rely on guess-work. Drones have the capability to be launched within seconds of arriving on scene. Hovering high above the fire your Department's drone can give a birds-eye view of where you need to place your man power.
Drones are also being utilized in search and rescue operations. Swimmers, hikers, and bikers can be lost if quick action is not taken. A drone can survey an area much quicker than people on the ground. Map overlays can guide search crews to an exact position of victims and with today's technology, some drones can be outfitted with FLIR thermal cameras to show a clear view whether conditions are less than ideal. Smoke, fog, night time, and obstacles are always working against our rescuers, but thermal cameras give us the insight we need to possibly save a life.
The following video was produced by the Kansas Fire Marshal’s office for fire suppression and investigation. It highlights their viewpoint on the value of UAS to assist in fire fighting.
A higher level of aerial emergency management can help firefighters, police and rescuers save more lives and property. From scene command to dropping life supporting equipment to crews and victims, drones will be essential to giving our First Responders a fighting chance to make a difference in emergency scenarios.