Emergency Response: Using Drones in a Crisis

Drones are forging new pathways within many industries every day, creating safer methods of work that no longer puts people at risk in hazardous situations. Now, we see what drones can offer in the landscape of emergency response.

Now while this isn’t exactly a brand new concept, drones are moving away from simply just on-going surveillance tools that would help authorities monitor a crisis. Don’t get me wrong, that’s still a vital part in any kind of emergency response and would make all the difference to someone trapped by fire or flood waters, locating them and directing emergency services to their position.

Phantom in Fire

But now we see the utility of drones changing to more practical aptitudes, to provide physical assistance to those in situations where seconds are vital, and could effectively improve the odds of survival.

Something as straightforward as a drone capable of transporting medical supplies is already something in high demand, but now we see more bespoke or at least specialised kinds of payload drops being developed into prototype stages.

One example of this is from University of Loughborough’s Dominic Leatherland who witnessed a surfer being pulled out to sea due to rough conditions and strong currents. While the surfer was thankfully saved by two lifeguards, Dominic noticed that he was without a floatation device for 35 seconds, and as result, his blossoming project, ‘SERVITA’ was created.

Emergency Drone Kit

A small compact drone, capable of rapid deployment and flight above ocean waters to locate struggling individuals and deploy a floatation device, capable of automatic inflation upon contact with the water. This innovation could potentially see preservation of life until rescue services can reach the individual, providing a significant aid that could make all the difference. You can see more about this exciting project here.

Another wonderful example of drones being adapted to emergency response situations is happening in Laixi City, China, where aircraft are being utilised in tackling fires, both in urban and rural environments. In the last few years, we’ve seen an exponential rise in forest fires, due in part to either climate change or human error, (we’re looking at you gender reveal people). But now we can see how this could shape the future that not only helps prevent loss of life, but can also save and preserve environments, ecosystems and wildlife that are so drastically affected.

Created by EHang, the drones in question are able to carry out such tasks like fire detection and using payload deployment systems to transport emergency firefighting supplies. The most hands-on service however is that there is aircraft that can actively extinguish fires, break high-rise windows and provide assistance to trapped people.

An airborne ehang firefighting drone shooting water through the window of a building in an emergency response.

Huazhi Hu, CEO, chairman and founder of EHang, has said ‘The fire rescue drill in Laixi City demonstrates the practical utilization of EHang to support smart city emergency response and firefighting management in air firefighting and rescue scenarios. EHang provides a new solution for intelligent aerial fire emergency rescue through integrating multiple functions such as aerial fire detection, fire extinguishing, rescue, emergency and firefighting management, etc.

In the future, this can be expected as a fundamental element in building a lifeline for more urban high-rise firefighting scenarios and power the optimization of smart city emergency response and firefighting management systems.’

To see these drones in action, you can see the video of the drill here.

Liarne Fox

February 01

An airborne drone during a GVC transition training course.

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