Police forces and other emergency services have been some of the first to get ahead of the curve when it comes to using drones. If you’re a strategic planner for any emergency service or search and rescue organisation, and you’re not using a drone yet… well, that’s where this article comes in to help. In Part One, we’ll take a look at why an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will make all the difference to your operations, while Part Two looks at the detailed features of drones and how to choose the best one for your emergency service team.
Why Use A Drone For Emergency Services?
Drones can cover ground far more quickly and easily than people: this makes them ideal for fast-paced emergency situations. The aerial footage UAVs capture can be fed back in real time to the ground team, helping you to create effective and immediate plans of action.
There are many different scenarios you might see a drone used for emergency services:A large RTA can be tricky to navigate, so an aerial view provides clear overviews ofaccess points, problem areas, and critical casualties
- A drone can be sent into a hostage situation to prevent risk to staff while assessing the area
- Thermal imaging cameras help search and rescue operations as drones can go underneath tree canopies, unlike helicopters
- In the case of large fires, a drone can be equipped with special imaging cameras to identify hotspots and the best course of action
- This is definitely not an exhaustive list! Drones can be used for crowd surveillance, security, ground team coordination, and even record footage to be used in later legal proceedings.
Check out our drones for emergency services here!
Don’t They Cost A Lot Of Money?
Nope. That’s the very short answer. The answer that’s actually helpful to you is ‘definitely not thanks to affordable price plans, and the money savings a drone will instigate within the first year’.
A UAV needs only one pilot (and an assistant to keep it in view if the pilot needs one – CAA regulation means a drone must always be in sight of the pilot), compared to large ground teams on man hunts or rescue operations. This birds-eye view also helps teams create and implement plans of action much more quickly, saving time (and therefore money) for every drone flight. In the more extreme cases, a drone can be sent out to investigate whether an air ambulance or police helicopter is required – often saving them a trip and, therefore, lots of money.
(Editor’s note: helicopters aren’t the devil, are very useful, and definitely still have their place in the emergency services – we’re just suggesting that sometimes a drone can be sentahead to assess exactly when and where they’re needed to help save time. Think of UAVs as a supporting artist to the emergency helicopter’s starring role).
You see the theme? Spend a bit on a drone, save a lot on your budget. Simple!
Can’t We Just Use A Hobby Drone?
Erm, no. As Andrew Griffiths, Managing Director of DroneFlight, says, “a photography drone is not an emergency drone”. It might seem like a great cost-saving to get a cheap drone from the high street, but it won’t do you any good!
Griffiths continues: “Emergency situations happen anytime and in any weather. Two key operating parameters of [a cheaper photography drone] are that it cannot fly in the rain and it can only operate in winds of no more than 10m/s. Let’s take Manchester as an example; the long-term (30 year) average count of raining days is approximately 140 days per year. Historic windspeed data is often only available in averages but the simple fact remains that more bad things happen in bad weather.”
A drone for emergency services has to be able to stand up to tough conditions and hard usage. It needs to carry heavier payloads, such as dual thermal and visible spectrum cameras alongside gas detection sensors, while operating in often tricky weather and terrain conditions.
A hobby drone simply won’t stand up to the specific requirements of emergency service usage. But it’s OK: hop on over to Part Two to find out exactly which specifications you need to consider when buying a drone for your emergency service!
With thanks to Andrew Griffiths, Managing Director, DroneFlight