Everybody knows what a drone is by now: those fancy little multi-rotor remote controlled video platforms that zip about in the air to take sweet aerial footage of the skies above or the world below. It’s been used for promotional tourism, covering events, monitoring traffic, and there are even test runs of drones being used to deliver parcels or pizza directly to addresses. But drones have also made a comfortable niche serving a particularly vital role in first responder services.
One beautiful example of drone in emergency work comes from CNN, detailing a dramatic rescue that took place in Iowa this July. A 20-man first response team had been mobilized on the Des Moines River to locate a grandfather and granddaughter caught in a logjam along the river’s East Fork. The leader, Kossuth County emergency management coordinator could hear the victim’s cries for help, but with the sun coming down and visibility plummeting it was becoming increasingly difficult to pick out two figures out in the wild outdoors.
Salvation ultimately came in another emergency worker who arrived at the scene with the team’s new DJI Phantom camera drone. In only three minutes after taking to the air, footage had located the stranded duo on the river. The drone was then set to hover directly over their location, both to reassure the grandpa and her granddaughter that they have been found but also so that its position could simply guide the rest of the team approaching on foot.
While Penton was certain that the missing boaters would eventually be found by the first responders without the drone’s help, it was doubly lucky that they decided to perform the reconnaissance when they did have the drone around. Seconds after the team finally reached the duo, the grandfather began suffering a heart attack. With the extra time bought by the drone, the rescuers were able to rush the old man to a hospital where he is certain to recover from his ordeal. A traditional search would have given him slim chances of survival. Penton is now in the market to buy a second drone for his team’s use.
Already the use of drones has become widespread with the increasing variety of tasks they can be made to do. Come August the federal government is expected to release the main body of official regulations for commercial use of RC aerial drones. And companies manufacturing this intrepid hardware forecast that widespread drone use could see around 100,000 additional jobs by 2025, with a whopping $82 billion worth of business.
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