Across the country, public safety agencies are utilizing sUAS to reduce time and costs while keeping their communities safe. In Florida, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has worked with the Daytona Beach Police Department’s Aviation Unit on a number of fronts to assess hurricane damage, catch criminal suspects and support firefighting efforts. On the West Coast, agencies have used drones to assist in efforts during the recent California wildfires.
“A public safety agency’s sUAS unit can reduce the risk to its first responders and increase efficiency during an emergency response or recovery effort,” said Dr. Joe Cerreta, an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle. “These tools can support firefighting, search and rescue, accident reconstruction, damage assessment, and more.”
Establishing a successful sUAS public safety unit doesn’t happen overnight. An intense amount of planning, training and education are involved before the first drone ever takes flight.
“It all comes down to creating a professional aviation program,” said Embry-Riddle Assistant Professor David Thirtyacre. “Insurance, liability, risk assessment and mitigation, proper training, and operational oversight are all huge pieces to consider in the public safety sector and often neglected until something goes wrong - and things go wrong all the time with sUAS.”
Thirtyacre offers several key takeaways for agencies that are considering an sUAS unit:
Identify objectives up front
Conduct a cost/benefit analysis
Assess available resources
Research and invest in training and equipment acquisition