Recently, Firefighter/EMT Rich Gatanis was invited to speak at the 3rd International Firefighters Congress in Bogotá, Colombia in reference to our use of UAS-augmented HazMat response. The Congress was hosted by Bomberos Bogotá (Bogotá Fire Department) at the Hotel Dann Carlton in the heart of Bogotá. Rich was invited by the office of the Director of Bomberos De Bogotá to share how Southern Manatee began using drone technology and where their program is today.

The Congress was made up of attendees and speakers from all across Latin America including Mexico, France, and the US. An interpreter was brought in during FF Gatanis’ presentation to help bridge the language barrier. The attendees were very eager to learn about Southern Manatee. On the final day of the Congress, Rich was asked to be a part of a very special occasion where the Director signed a new Resolution which added, for the first time, a UAS (drone) team to their already established SART (Search And Rescue Teams) across the country. This was a big step for their department as they embraced new technology to help with their emergency response efforts. The Director personally thanked Firefighter Gatanis and Southern Manatee for bringing our knowledge and expertise to their country. He also stated our use of drones in HazMat response was a large part of what helped them create this new Resolution.

Thanks to Firefighter Gatanis and our UAS program, Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District has now created an international footprint!

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