Guest post – Andrew Bird, Brand Manager – DJI Enterprise
Published: 31st August 2021
Estimated reading time: 4.5 minutes
The main challenge for first responders in an emergency like searching for a missing person, attending a fire or a natural disaster response is quickly and accurately assessing the landscape they are entering.
Increasingly, drones are being used to produce ‘eye in the sky’ aerial images with high-resolution thermal and visual elements for real-time situational awareness. In environments where poor conditions hinder access and visibility – especially when a location cannot be reached on foot – drones enable a fast and safe response and provide meaningful data and evidence for post-event analysis and reporting.
Ultimately, drones support emergency services in reducing risks to the public and other first responders. In this article, Andrew Bird discusses how DJI Enterprise’s technology can support your teams to develop best practices and optimal standards when integrating drones into command protocols.
Firefighters attend a variety of incidents including search and rescue, disaster response, road traffic collisions and large-scale, complex open fires.
Smoke, buildings, and obstacles can make it challenging to determine the scope of a fire and its threat. The limited situational perspective from the ground can hinder the optimal deployment of attention and resources, and in the aftermath of a fire disaster it can be hazardous and costly to accurately survey and document damage.
Using drones to fly over buildings and obstacles and see through smoke with thermal cameras helps to prioritize targets. Firefighters can align teams and eliminate uncertainty by streaming live video intelligence back to command centres, and high-resolution cameras can remotely monitor remaining threats and document damage for future analysis.
Each year in the UK over 170,000 individuals are reported missing, which often results in a search for someone who is vulnerable or injured in a challenging environment.
Rescue missions pose inherent danger to responders, which can be compounded by incomplete situational information. Rescue teams are often spread thin when target areas are vast and terrain is demanding with and low-light conditions further hindering search efforts, significantly complicating rescue missions.
With a drone, responders can quickly and easily widen and heighten search areas and identify threats to victims and responders with high-resolution aerial imagery. As a result, search missions at night and in low-light environments can be more efficient than ever and using tools like thermal sensors mean missing persons who might otherwise be overlooked are more likely to be located.
Devon and Cornwall Police employ Mavic 2 Enterprise and Matrice 300 RTK drones for their search and rescue missions – these drones both boast robust flight performance, thermal imaging technology and are fast and easy to carry and deploy.
The UK has faced multiple natural disasters in the last few years alone; floods, wildfires and hurricane-force winds have created conditions that are difficult to reach on foot or require guidance from a higher level.
First responders and incident planning teams are often separated by distance, time and operating areas. Crews can be split up between ‘cold’, ‘warm’, and ‘hot’ zones, working either from the command post, decontaminating those coming from the scene or dealing directly with the hazardous material (Hazmat).
Splitting up Hazmat teams is necessary but narrows the margin for error. Traditionally, a command post’s understanding of a situation is limited by many factors – distance being the major hurdle. Images from handheld cameras and entry team reports are fallible. And scenarios can easily escalate in the time it takes to transition between zones and provide a first-hand account directly to superiors.
Inspections which would take hours using conventional methods could be completed in minutes by employing a trained pilot with a drone. For example, when first entry crews are suited-up they have around 30 minutes supply of air. If it takes 10 minutes to walk from the control point to the incident, it leaves just 10 minutes to search for victims and risks before they must return. To carry out vital searches like this, crews have to enter multiple times – not only is this a costly exercise both from time and cost perspectives, it also greatly heightens the risk both to crews and stranded persons.
But with drones entering the site as vanguards, the crew can get a detailed overview of the site, locate priority areas (such as an area with stranded or injured persons) and have tools dropped to the right location before they enter. This can save up to 3 hours per operation, and more importantly lives.
Click here to see how DJI drones are deployed by Hazmat teams in real life.
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