First responders increasing use of drones to save lives

Firefighters, EMS providers and police are using the technology to increase their visibility, making their job easier

By FireRescue1 Staff

WILMINGTON, Del. — First responders are upping their use of drones to increase their visibility of incidents and save more lives.

In an interview with ABC News, Jamie Moore, with the Public Safety UAS Response Team, explained how drones combined with thermal imaging cameras help firefighters.

“It’s better information, and with better information comes better decisions. It’s the next best thing since a fire hose,” Moore said.  

Members of the Joshua (Texas) Fire Department demonstrated how drones can reveal a person hidden in a smoke-filled room through the thermal imaging camera. From the outside, firefighters are unsure if anyone is trapped inside, but when the drone goes inside it’s much easier to see.

“High-tech firefighting, that’s the way to do it,” a Joshua Fire Department firefighter said.

Drones can also help police in active shooter scenarios. As demonstrated in a training exercise, the drone goes into the building first and spots the suspect, so that police can go in safely for the takedown.

Officer Barry Moore of Mansfield (Texas) Police Department explained what goes through his mind before a drone goes into a scene.

“Keep the officers that are coming in safe, make sure I can get eyes on the bad guy … make sure they’re not walking into something that’s going to get them killed,” he said.

Officer Moore was part of a drone task force that found an escaped convict in 2015 hours before a search helicopter arrived.

Drones are also being used in search and rescue missions. Two lost kayakers and their dog were spotted by a drone in June in two hours, and thermal imaging drones were used to find stranded kayakers in just 20 minutes at night.

More than 300 agencies have added drones, which are 400 times cheaper than using a helicopter, to their fleet.

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