On August 24th, 2018 Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District was featured in the FireRescue 1 Magazine and on their Website over the use of Drones. FireRescue 1 News has international circulation, so this story appeared around the world. Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District has been leading the way in Florida for Drone utilization and it seems like every day we find another use in utilizing our Drones in making us more efficient and safer in our service delivery to our citizens. Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District began their Drone program back in 2015 and today we operate 2 Drones with all types of cameras from HD to Thermal. Additionally Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District has partnered with DJI (Leader in Drones and Drone Technology) with a Co-op Agreement which allows use to conduct research in testing new equipment, cameras, payload systems and to conduct research utilizing Drones in monitoring air quality during in a dangerous/explosive/flammable atmosphere. Through research we were able to be part of building and testing brackets that hold gas monitoring equipment to sample air quality and then transmit this data back to the command post, saving countless time and is much safer than putting firefighters immediately into a hot or dangerous zone to get these samples.
It seems like a daily event that we identify a new use for Drones and when an idea comes up, we immediately test it. Our Drones are licensed through FAA and the personnel that operate them have their UAV Pilot License. When operating a Drone we utilize two Firefighters, the pilot and a spotter. One day I see Drone’s being dispatch to a call at the same time emergency apparatus are dispatched which will be able to transmit live video feed to the responding apparatus about traffic and most important immediately being able get a size up of the scene and being able to dispatch more apparatus in advance based on what the Drone not only see’sbut smells (gas monitoring of chemicals) and quickly identify exposures and the number of patients. Drone’s one day will be used to respond to a cardiac arrest to deliver an automatic external defibrillator (AED) for immediate and rapid use by a citizen in saving a life or a person struggling in the Gulf of Mexico that is stuck in a rip current the Drone will be able to immediately drop a life ring or even a rescue line to this victim and save their life or in an immediate emergency that requires immediate evacuation of area, you will be able to transmit an evacuation order and directions through a speaker or a fire in a high-rise you will be able to fly to the 30th floor immediately and enter the structure utilizing cameras both HD and Thermal looking for victims that need to be rescued. For search and rescue of a lost person, a Drone can be programmed to search a grid a lot quicker than a human and at night utilizing the thermal camera immediately locate a victim by their heat signature. The uses are endless and Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District leads the State with our Drone over use and was asked to go to Washington DC to speak to leaders over United States train system about utilizing Drones in their Federal operation.
Click on this link to learn more over SMFR’s Drone program: