As more public safety agencies adopt small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the number of lives the technology is saving is climbing dramatically, reports Skyfire Consulting, a public safety UAV consulting company in Decatur, Ga.
Recently, in just one day, four people were reportedly saved by drones in three separate incidents around the world.
On May 31, the Wayne Township Fire Department in Indiana used a drone to drop a life jacket to a fleeing suspect, who had gotten himself into a near-drowning situation in a lake.
On that same day, officials in a Texas town near Dallas dropped life jackets to a mother and daughter who found themselves in rising floodwater, and police in the U.K. used a drone with a thermal imaging camera to find a stranded hiker on a dangerous cliff, says Skyfire.
“We are seeing more and more life-saving stories coming out of these agencies,” says Matt Sloane, CEO of Skyfire Consulting. “This technology can no longer be written off as a toy or a plaything. It’s a front-line tool in public safety, and it’s already saving lives.”
For many agencies, including the Wayne Township Fire Department, the technology has been a game-changer.
“In my 32 years working in public safety, the UAV is one of the most exciting tools to come along that improves first responder safety and efficiency,” says Captain Mike Pruitt, Wayne Township’s UAV program manager. “The possibilities of what we can do with these aircraft are endless.”
Pruitt, who worked with Skyfire to start his drone program, says he’s flying the department’s aircraft several times a week in his area and in other parts of Indiana when he’s called to assist. They even recently flew in heavy downpours with DJI’s Matrice 210 aircraft, a water-resistant drone.
“There are over 100,000 public agencies in the U.S.,” Sloane adds. “Early adopters like Wayne Township are showing the other 99,000 agencies out there that this technology can be implemented safely and effectively and will truly save lives.”
Skyfire says it has worked with over 120 agencies, including the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Orlando Fire Department, Miami-Dade Fire and Houston Fire.
“Big and small, our clients are taking their response capabilities to the next level, and I don’t see this trend slowing down anytime soon,” Sloane says.
Skyfire will be holding a public safety UAV symposium with the Memorial Villages Police Department and Houston Fire Department July 30-31 in the Houston area.