The public safety industry is known to be slow to adapt to using new technology. But while fire and police departments are not always “early adopters”, public safety agencies around the world have started using drones to help with rescue, EMS, structure fires, and more. Methods used by departments employing drones can teach us interesting insights about the relationship between the emergency response industry and public safety technology.
1) Dynamic Industries
The first thing we can learn from the growing usage of drones is that public safety agencies are not as antiquated as people sometimes think.
While it can be a slow process for departments to start using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), drone use in the fire service is gaining traction.
Although drones are still relatively new technology, the National Council of Public Safety UAS was created May 19, 2017 specifically to promote the implementation of drones in the public safety industry.
Their charter states that one of their aims is to “serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas, information and best practices regarding public safety unmanned aircraft systems.”
This example demonstrates that the industry is open to new ideas, information, and public safety technology. While individual fire, police, and EMS departments are sometimes reluctant to implement new technology, the industry as a whole is dynamic and adaptable.
2) Endless Applications
Another takeaway from the rise of drones is that new forms of public safety technology can serve more than one purpose. Drones have a variety of potential applications in emergency response.
Different departments around the world are experimenting with drones and their capabilities, demonstrating that public safety technology often can meet multiple needs and save lives in different ways.
Fire and Rescue New South Wales (NSW) is using drones to help with bushfires to scope out dangerous areas and provide valuable information on chemical spills and natural disasters. Viewers can even tour NSW stations using drone technology.
Forward-thinking fire departments in Tucson, Arizona are planning to use drones to gain a higher perspective while fighting structure fires and help locate missing persons, like stranded hikers or in swift-water rescues.
In Sweden, researchers are testing out drones which could deliver defibrillators to people suffering heart attacks, arriving faster than ambulances. Their goal is for drones be able to arrive at scenes quickly and start delivering care while EMTs are on their way. Then, EMTs can take over once they arrive.
3) No One Solution
Even as drones provide great benefits, they’re not perfect for every emergency or incident.
One problem that many departments are experiencing is that hobbyists are flying personal drones too close to scenes. These close calls can make it difficult for firefighters to respond effectively.
First responders must deal with a wide range of different types of incidents, and it’s important to realize that one problem’s solution may make things worse elsewhere.
Overall, drones can teach us several important lessons about the relationships between the emergency response industry and public safety technology. In the coming years, it will be interesting to watch the evolution of drones for emergency response and observe new forms of public safety technology develop.
How Adashi is Evaluating the Drone Movement
Adashi has been monitoring the drone movement very closely and has already established several relationships with manufacturers. Drones are a perfect match with incident command software. Commanders can directly control drones using integrated map displays and transmit critical video feeds to responders in real-time.
Innovative technology is constantly providing new opportunities for first responders and public safety organizations worldwide. As the industry implements new technology, we see improvements in terms of firefighter gear, first responder software, and other products designed to improve public safety.
Drones are just one piece of the public safety technology resurgence, but the takeaways from the drone movement can help us learn important lessons about the future of public safety technology. As we grow and innovate, the emergency response industry can continue to prevent loss of life and improve overall public safety.
Alex Menkes is the CEO of Adashi Systems. He has numerous years of experience in the public safety industry, having previously led the CBRE automated decision aid software department at OptiMetrics, a leading developer of CBRN hazard decision-aid software for military use.