DSR’s Drones for Emergency Services is being launched with an aim of providing nationwide drone support to the UK’s emergency services.

DSR is the UK’s leading drone hire organisation. Our members are all CAA qualified and insured to fly drones on a commercial basis.  Our commercial UAV pilot members are working in a multitude of industry sectors including supporting the nation’s emergency services.

Drones and the Emergency Services

Drones Save Lives

Drones have saved at least 59 people from life threatening danger.  That’s according to DJI who undertook a survey of media reports collected from around the world.

The report detailed :

  • At least 59 lives have been saved by civilian drones in 18 different incidents around the world
  • 38 of those lives were saved in the last 10 months
  • Based on the results, drones are saving almost one life a week on average
  • 20 of those lives (38%) were saved by civilian drones using their drone to assist in a rescue scenario
  • 31 lives were saved during floods as drones spotted missing persons and in some cases delivered a life vest or rescue rope.
  • Another 19 people were found on land, on terrain ranging from swamps to mountains to snowbanks
  • 9 more people were rescued from non flooded water environments including off beaches or boats

“The clear conclusion is that drones are regularly saving lives around the world. This is occurring even though professional rescue crews are just beginning to adopt UAS technology, and in many cases are relying on bystanders or volunteers to provide lifesaving assistance,” concludes the report from DJI’s Policy & Legal Affairs Department.

“DJI is at the forefront in efforts to develop best practices and optimal standards for firefighters, rescue services and other first responders to integrate drones into their command protocols. As these efforts continue, we expect the number of lives saved by drones to continue to grow.”

Half of the UK’s police forces are now using drones or are planning to.

Devon and Cornwall Police have recently launched Britain’s first 24-hour drone unit to find missing people and to help with major crime investigations.  Other UK police forces have also been using drones in operations for months.

Damian Sowry, Chief Inspector for West Mercia and Warwickshire police services, told Sky News that he is hopeful their joint trial will demonstrate value for money.  “I’m expecting to be able to show that we can use these devices to protect the public… in a way that’s cost effective and really helps public confidence,” he said.“

Also that we can demonstrate to the public that we take very seriously the issues around privacy, human rights, and all those other kind of concerns that people legitimately have.”

FIRE

Two-thirds of the UK’s fire services are using drones to assist them in emergency situations.  Drones are being attributed to saving emergency workers’ lives.

Drones are able to provide a safer birds eye view of a fire.  Putting a drone in the air enables fire fighters to make time critical decisions based on the aerial imagery data captured above a fire.  It’s a safer way of assessing the situation rather than putting human lives at risk.

West Midlands Fire Service has been using drones since 2007.  Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) launched in 2015, a 24 hour flying Air Unit to support the work of firefighters at operational incidents.

The Mid and West Wales Fire Service has been given Welsh government funding for some of their drones.  Steve Richards, the service’s station manager, has been trained as a drone pilot. He told sky news that drones will save lives.  He added: “It gives you the whole picture so when you go to an incident with drones we can actually do a 360 observation and stay in a safe place… it’s putting the drone up instead of having to put the firefighters in there.”

AMBULANCE

The nation’s specialist ambulance crews, or Hazard Area Response Teams (HART), are also soon expected to be equipped with drones.

The NHS has 15 Hazardous Area Response Teams (HART) that deal with medical emergencies involving chemical, biological or nuclear materials. They work in difficult scenarios involving confined spaces, heights or water. Last year the National Ambulance Resilience Unit (NARU), which manages the teams, awarded a contract to provide each HART unit with a reconnaissance drone.

The plan is for the drones to be fitted with video cameras on board to provide an eye in the sky at accident scenes. Each HART team will have a trained drone operator working alongside paramedics. The drone will allow the HART team leader to observe the high-risk incident ground quickly and prior to the deployment of staff. The drone will also give teams a quick overview of patients’ condition and location, allowing the leader to direct paramedics towards them.

SEARCH AND RESCUE

Search and Rescue may well emerge as the most effective use of lifesaving drones. A 2016 research study that DJI undertook with the Donegal Mountain Search and Rescue, in Ireland, found that a five-person rescue team requires 2 hours on average to find a victim in a one square kilometre area, but a drone can locate a victim in that area in 20 minutes– six times quicker. Drones can relay back live images of the scene ensuring that the rescue operation can be planned to reduce the risk to the emergency responders’ own lives.

Drones are already becoming essential emergency service tools of the trade.  Drones are fast becoming standard operation in many emergency situations.   They are deployed for all manner of reasons but notably because they can often do the job safer, cheaper and more time efficiently.