“Rise of the Machine” – the use of drones in emergency services

The US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) wrote about the growing potential for drones in emergency services, in the Jul/Aug issue of their magazine.

These vehicles are also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Aerial Systems (AUS) Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), and have potential value across a range of industries. In the firefighting space, to quote the article author Jesse Roman,

 “How useful would it be if a drone could fly into a burning building, locate victims, quickly create a three-dimensional floor scan of the structure, and transmit that information to firefighters outside?”

In New Zealand, discussion is already under way about the use of drones in emergency contexts:

UAV use in rural firefighting was on the schedule at the May 2015 Christchurch conference, ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – a view to the future’ (Schedule only; the proceedings not available through this site, but authors are listed).

In March this year NZ Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR) teamed up with Australian UAV company Flirtey to trial drone capability in searching for a missing person near Lake Roxburgh and delivering medical supplies. Flirtey Chief Executive Matthew Sweeny describes the company’s NZ trials as “a complete success.”

Meanwhile, The Civil Aviation Authority has launched new rules for these increasingly common vehicles, effective from 1 August 2015.