Tag: Drone Services Phoenix

Drones in Emergency Situations

Drone at dawn

By now you know our mantra here at Emergency Plan Guide: “The more we all know, the safer we all will be.” This attitude is convenient for people like me. I enjoy learning more about aspects of emergency preparedness I don’t expect to become an expert in

Today’s Advisory about the use of drones in emergency situations is an example. While we’ve written about drones before, Joe and I don’t own one. But drones appear ever more frequently in First Responder and emergency preparedness circles. When I got the chance to work with an expert, I grabbed at it.

Today’s Advisory is built around the professional roles that drones are playing today. It’s written by Anthony Jamison, head of the Outreach Department of Drone Services Phoenix. The company provides aerial photography and videography for commercial projects (real estate, construction, etc.. (If you’re interested in learning more about drone services as a career, check out their website! Lots of good info there.)

So here’s what Anthony pulled together. I emphasized a few sentences in bold that I thought were particularly important.

How Drones Are Being Used To Assist In Emergency Situations

Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have come a long way from their beginnings as a purely military tool. While they remain an indispensable part of countless military operations to this very day, their ever-increasing commercial availability has ushered in a new era of widespread use among everyday people.

Today, UAVs are a potent business tool, with many companies and entrepreneurs leveraging aerial drone photography to further their business goals.

Drones are also proving to be quite handy during emergencies. Let’s take a closer look at how people are using drones for disaster relief and other emergency situations.

Water Rescue

A drone operated by lifeguards saved the lives of two people who were at risk of drowning after getting caught in heavy surf in Australia.

It took only two minutes to complete the rescue. The drone flew half a mile above the struggling swimmers and dropped a flotation device, which helped the swimmers back to shore.

It’s the first time that a drone was used to achieve such a feat. It likely won’t be the last. After all, drones can get much faster to those in trouble in the water than rescuers swimming towards them.

Drones can also be used to scan the surf for sharks and keep beach-goers safe.

Supply Drops

Disasters can render any part of a village, town, or city inaccessible.

With drones, we can now deliver supplies and emergency survival kits to those who need them most without delay. Our increased drone capabilities also mean that we don’t have to risk human lives to make food, water, and medical supply deliveries to victims of a disaster in hard-to-reach spots.


For the longest time, firefighters have been using planes and helicopters to combat wildfires. But flying them through the conditions such conflagrations create can be downright dangerous.

Drones equipped with infrared cameras, however, can fly through thick, black smoke into spots too dangerous for manned aircraft.

Whether they’re carrying buckets and massive tanks filled with water and foam for dumping over large areas or ping-pong ball-sized incendiary devices that deny advancing wildfires of fuel, drones are proving to be quite effective firefighters.

Search and Rescue Operations

Locating people that need rescue and evacuation is a task that drones appear to be built for.

Drones can reach high altitudes, fly into mining shafts, and detect body heat through thermal imaging cameras. They are proving their worth as an indispensable tool for search and rescue operations.

CBRNE Events

Natural disasters are bad enough, but chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosive, or CBRNE events are even worse.

Whether the release of hazardous materials was accidental or intentional, like in the case of a terrorist attack, a CBRNE event creates extremely unsafe situations for victims and relief workers alike. However, immediate relief must be provided and the extent of the damage assessed. An aerial drone can help with that and more.

Drones were deployed to inspect the meltdown-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, a direct result of a powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. With the help of drones, authorities were able to receive data that allowed them to measure radiation inside the reactor, monitor possible radiation exposure, and repair destroyed areas.

With drones doing the dangerous parts of the job, nuclear fallout exposure for relief workers was kept to a minimum.

COVID-19 Response

The COVID-19 pandemic is the worst crisis to hit humanity since the Second World War.

To date, the coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than two million people worldwide. Its economic impact is also massive, with millions of people losing their livelihood amid business shutdowns and country-wide lockdowns.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has given birth to a larger role for drones.

  • With the pandemic in full swing, drones have become instrumental in contactless food and medical supply deliveries.
  • Drones are seeing use as a disinfectant delivery system, spraying large areas to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
  • In the United States, special drones designed to monitor public spaces and ensure compliance with social distancing protocols are already in use. These UAVs can detect temperatures, heart rates, coughing, and even social distancing.

As drone technology evolves over the years, we can expect to see more developments that will make them even more useful in times of crisis.

What about us non-professionals or hobbyists using drones in emergency situations?

I know that some preppers have considered using drones in non-professional – and maybe even illegal – ways. For example, just today I read an article suggesting that drones could serve to intimidate or distract people approaching your location, or to surveille people or situations that might turn into a threat.

I think these are good uses. The “illegal” part is that these drones would likely be flying low over groups of people, or flying out of the sight of the operator, both of which have not been allowed.

An update on drone regulations has just been announced.

In December, 2020, the Federal Aeronautics Association (FAA) finally passed new rules that have been in the works for a couple of years. They give drones new flexibility to fly at night and over humans and traffic as long as the drone is able to broadcast its identification and location. (Apparently community-based and educational groups will still be able to fly non-remote-ID equipped aircraft in specially designated areas.)

I assume that professional pilots know all the details. (I had trouble finding a source for more than what I’ve written above.) If you are interested in flying a drone as a hobby, be sure to check in with the FAA regarding licensing and flying requirements.  

I’ll close this Advisory with a few more words from Anthony:

As drone technology evolves over the years, we can expect to see more developments that will make them even more useful in times of crisis.

While we may still be a long way off from drones capable of evacuating people from disaster areas, the advances that we are going to see will be just as exciting.

All very thought-provoking, isn’t it?!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. Our earlier Advisories about drones – what to look for, limitations, what they cost, what equipment they carry, etc. – have been updated. Check them out: