Emergency Response Drones: Saving Lives, Improving Response Times

Public Safety_DJI_thedronecentre_2
In an urgent response situation, the team and authorities are working against the clock. Traveling to the incident site, establishing situational awareness, and requesting additional resources all take time- precious time that can save lives. While traditional teams have to deal with road conditions, distance, and longer deployment times, drones do not. Emergency response teams are now leveraging drones to save lives, improve response times and optimize resource allocation.

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What Makes Drones the Ideal First Responder

Drones have several advantages that make them the ideal first responder in emergencies. They are able to travel to the incident site quickly and provide situational awareness, which can help reduce response times. They can also be used to request additional resources, which can optimize resource allocation. Additionally, drones are able to fly in difficult or dangerous conditions that would be too dangerous for traditional teams. This can help reduce the risk to emergency responders and improve safety.

Drones have been used in a number of emergencies, including wildfires, hurricanes, and floods. In each situation, drones were able to provide critical information that helped responders make better decisions and save lives. As a result, drones are quickly becoming an essential part of the emergency response team and are helping to make our world a safer place.

While there is no doubt that drones are extremely effective in major emergencies (you can read more on that in our previous post here), they can also be used in more common emergencies- such as car accidents or house fires, and any other emergency situation. Emergency response drones can cut down on response time, which can be critical in life-or-death situations. In most cases, drones can arrive at the scene before emergency crews.

Let’s take a look at deployment. Ground-based teams will either need to be dispatched from base or be rerouted from their current location. This takes time and a significant amount of coordination. When you consider that usually the teams are drip-fed information that may or may not be a 100%, we can really appreciate the stress emergency response teams shoulder. Drones on the other hand can be deployed at a moment’s notice.

Next, let’s consider travel time. The situation on the road can be extremely unpredictable, ranging from having a direct and unobstructed path to heavy congestions with multiple detours. Safe to say, this is usually where most of the time is lost. With drones being airborne, operators don’t have to contend with traffic, roadblocks, detours etc. They can beeline straight to the site past all disruptions and reach onsite well before the ground team arrives.

Drones can also assist ground teams by providing them with a live feed of the situation. This gives responders a better understanding of the scene and what resources they will need. Drones can also be used to relay information back to command, which can help with resource allocation.

Operating DJI M-300
Operating the M-300 RTK

Drones can provide support to ground teams in a few ways:

  • First, drones can provide a live feed to ground teams. This gives responders a better understanding of the scene and what resources they will need. Drones can also be used to relay information back to command, which can help with resource allocation.
  • Second, drones can be used to establish situational awareness. This means that drones can help responders understand the layout of the scene, identify hazards, and locate victims. Since drones can arrive onsite before the ground team they can gather the info and relay it to the team en route providing the team with an objective, complete and accurate assessment of the emergency.
  • Third, drones can be used to transport resources to the scene. This can include medical supplies, food, water, and other supplies. With drones, you avoid further delays by flying directly to the centre and back to the site, bypassing traffic and other obstructions. This allows them to deliver resources much faster than ground-based teams. In the future, drones may even be used to transport personnel to the site.
  • Fourth, would be improved visibility. Assessing a situation from eye level is incredibly challenging. Light of sight obstructions can lead to blind spots, which in turn limits the team’s ability to manage and assess the situation effectively. Drones provide a better vantage point and cover a larger area by offering a birds-eye view. Drones provide a clear advantage when you compare it to eye-level vision.
 
What makes drones the ideal first responder

Empowering You with Thermal

Another massive advantage with drones is thermal imaging. Most public safety and security drones come integrated with both thermal and RGB sensors in one payload. Notable examples are the DJI M300 with the H20T payload and DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise advanced. Both these capable drone platforms can provide both normal vision and thermal imaging on demand.

Thermal imaging drones can provide a number of benefits for emergency responders. First, emergency response teams can use thermal drones to identify victims quickly. Thermal drones can cover a large area very quickly and can easily identify people who are in need of assistance. This can help reduce the amount of time that it takes to find and rescue victims.

Second, thermal drones can be used to help responders assess the situation. Thermal drones can provide a live feed of the scene to emergency responders, which can help them make better decisions about how to respond to the emergency.

Third, these sensors are unaffected by light level, crowd density, and obstructions to visibility like smoke, fog etc,. In these situations, having equipment that can pierce through the noise and return effective information is critical. Drones are exactly that equipment.

Thermal image DJI H20T
Thermal sensor detecting body heat signature

Choosing the right drone and the right payloads

When looking for a drone to be used in times of distress, reliability is a massive factor– and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more impressive track record as DJI. Since 2013 (the earliest record we could find), DJI drones have helped save over 786 souls, and have had a massive impact in 454 rescue incidents, and have been deployed in over 36 countries. In a high-stress situation, you need to be able to put your trust in the machinery and not have to stress about error margins and reliability of the machine or its data. So here are the drones we think are well suited for the task of being the first responder:

DJI M300 RTK

The M300 RTK is the definitive be-all-end-all solution. It is remarkably resilient– rated with IP 45 protection and six directional sensings. This drone was built for challenging environments and can navigate them with confidence. Apart from that, the M300 has a maximum flight time of 55 minutes, making it ideal for drawn-out scenarios empowering the team with long and uninterrupted service. But the most significant advantage of the Matrice 300 is the powerful swappable payloads– giving you the flexibility to handle varied circumstances with the right approach. You can even attach two down-facing payloads on the M-300 for maximum efficiency!

DJI Matrice 300 RTK drone
DJI M300 RTK with H20, Wingsland Z15 and P1 payloads

Zenmuse H20T Camera for M300 RTK

The Zenmuse H20T gives you 23x Hybrid zoom and a 640x512px thermal sensor. While the zoom allows you to focus on what matters from a safe distance, having a thermal sensor gives you a decided edge in situational awareness. With a tap of the button, you can have the power of RBG and thermal at your fingertips.

Wingsland Z15

With an effective range of 150m, this 3-axis stabilized spotlight with high-power beads provides first responders with crucial visibility. The flexibility of the Wingsland Z15 lends itself to being an advantage in most situations, be it lighting up the way, crowd management, or search and rescue. Additionally, this payload is compatible in a dual payload format which allows for maximum efficiency- While the Z15 gives light, you can use the other payload to examine the situation with scrutiny.

Wingsland Z15 spotlight at night

DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced

The M2EA is essentially a shrunken-down version of the M-300, but with this smaller size comes lesser flight time. While the M300 with H20T gives you 23x Hybrid zoom, the M2EA gives you 32x Digital zoom, and both drones enable you with a 640x512px thermal camera. The advantage of the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced is that it is straightforward and quick to deploy. Something to keep in mind are the accessories that are compatible with the M2EA like speaker, spotlight, beacon etc., makes this drone versatile and effective in different scenarios. The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced’s compact size and lightweight design make it an easy addition to any team and can be carried onto the field with no effort. 

Mavic 2 Enterprise with accessories including spotlight, speaker, and beamlight

Drones for Good

Emergency drones are a new and innovative way for emergency response teams to save lives, improve response time and optimize resource allocation. Emergency drones can provide support in a number of ways: they establish situational awareness by gathering information from the scene before ground-based responders arrive, transport resources between locations more quickly than traditional methods when road conditions or traffic disrupts travel times, help with visibility on site where smoke or fog obstructions is preventing an accurate assessment of the situation. Lastly, drones equipped with thermal imaging allow emergency responders to identify victims more easily in an emergency as well as assess the situation without being affected by light levels or crowd density. If you’re considering purchasing a drone but aren’t sure how it would be used at your company, then let us know!

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