Everybody knows the mantra: ‘In case of an emergency, stay calm.’ For first responders we might add ‘stay calculated.’ As life-threatening fires and traffic accidents progress, it is vital that firefighters and other emergency personnel know how to best respond. That’s where we come in: we fly over.
Drones for emergency response
When the Notre-Dame de Paris caught on fire on the evening of April 15th 2019, situational awareness was key to successfully limiting the damage done to the historical landmark. It was one of the first times drones became hot news. They assisted the Paris Fire Brigade by providing essential data that helped track the fire and its hotspots, informing the firefighters on where to concentrate their water flow.
First responder organisations are relying more on drones to enhance their response capabilities and execute their missions more efficiently, to reduce the number of casualties and keep first responders safe. Drones have proven to contribute to tactical operations and can help improve mission outcomes, for instance by reducing risk to responders and the public. Drones can help with mobilising teams, giving them eyes on a situation very quickly while using less manpower. Long-range drones in particular, can perform Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) missions. These can cover vast terrains to find missing persons, monitor and inspect incidents, or areas affected by natural disasters, to assess the damage and number of possible casualties. This huge increase in readily available information and data for situational awareness can help responders in making split decisions based on the data and help to save lives.
As technology advances and drones become more integrated into first response missions, operators have started to think outside the box resulting in... a drone-in-a-box solution. The concept behind it is simple - deploying a drone from the nearest base station, referred to as a “box”, and reaching an incident as quickly as possible, to assess the situation and provide real-time data for the first responders arriving at the scene. Why use a box? Maximise efficiency by strategically placing boxes next to accident prone areas, and once a signal is triggered by the command centre, have autonomous drones capable of dispatching and recharging themselves from their box.
An example of this is the Drone2Go project. A collaboration initiated in the Netherlands between 5 national responder operators: Rijkswaterstaat (Traffic and water management), Fire Brigade, Police, the NVWA (Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) and ILT-Aerosensing, to research how drones can be used autonomously and be quickly deployed to monitor accidents, and provide real-time information to first responders. Avy is proud to have been chosen as one of the drone operators and suppliers to participate in this project.
Being a manufacturer of fixed-wing drones with a mission of doing good, we want to help everywhere we can, to save lives. Since our payload bay is modular, we’ve been working on a first response payload with a gimballed camera, and taken on the challenge of deploying a VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) fixed-wing from a box. This is a prototype of what an Avy drone in the box solution could look like. For the live demonstration, Avy staged an incident that was live streamed from Valkenburg, to an audience of first responders located at Rijkswaterstaat Verkeerspost (traffic post). Since the purpose of Drone2Go is to explore drones for monitoring accidents, we staged a car crash in Valkenburg. The “emergency centre” (First responders at Rijkswaterstaat) was asked for additional imagery to support first responders arriving at the scene. With no cameras available, Rijkswaterstaat was able to deploy the nearest drone out-of-the box and support the first responders.
The first response payload equipped with a gimbal camera, was placed into the Avy Aera model, providing the first responders with an eye-in-the-sky at all time. This allowed them to take on the role of remote operator and get real-time information about the ongoing mission and status of the incident.
Here’s a glimpse of the demo:
Avy Aera and its docking station for first responders
Want to learn more about the use of drones by first responders?
Check our first response page or reach out to us and we'll be more than happy to provide you with more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.