Drones have saved the lives of at least 279 people - DJI announced at AirWorks 2019.
The amazing statistic shows just how important drones have become for public safety and search and rescue operations.
And this figure is almost certainly an under-estimate, as these 279 cases are the ones which have been documented, with many incidents sure to have been unreported or missed by popular media.
Drones are a vital, time-saving tool for life-saving operations, covering large areas quicker than foot patrols; offering a cheaper alternative to helicopter call-outs; and providing crucial real-time situational awareness from above, aided by thermal and zoom cameras. They also keep emergency crews safe by providing information from afar, which in turn helps to build effective deployment tactics.
DJI Gold Partner Heliguy, who has recently expanded from the UK to launch in America and looks after more than 40 of the UK's emergency services, sells a range of DJI drones and payloads which are being used for these life-saving missions, including the M200 Series, Mavic 2 Enterprise Zoom and Dual, the thermal DJI Zenmuse XT2 and the Z30 zoom cameras.
'279 Lives Saved Is An Amazing Statistic'
Romeo Durscher, DJI's Director of Public Safety Integration, described drones as a 'priceless' tool for search and rescue missions.
In an exclusive interview with Heliguy during AirWorks 2019, he said: "279 lives saved by drones is an amazing statistic.
"This statistic reflects the documented lives saved, where we have proof that the drone helped make that save, so the number is very likely to be much, much higher because we don’t have all of the cases.
"But regardless, we have almost 300 people that are still with us today. That economic impact is tremendous and the emotional impact of their families and friends because they are still here with us and they don’t have to mourn the loss is also tremendous. Just that number alone shows the potential of this technology."
He added that a test by ENNA (European Emergency Number Association) demonstrated that drones fitted with a visible light camera and flown manually helped to find a casualty, on average, three minutes faster than traditional search and rescue methods. He said that rescue efforts would be aided even further by drones with thermal cameras or if multiple drones were flown together.
Five Times That Drones Saved The Day
1: Drones Lights Up The Way To Find Trapped Hiker
In January 2019, a search and rescue team in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, used a drone to help rescue a hiker trapped on a ledge at night.
In this instance, the drone was used as a light source so that the search and rescue team could see where the man was.
2: Drone Vital In Search For Two Cousins
In April 2018, the Dalvik Search & Rescue Team used a drone to find two cousins who were stranded on the side of a steep mountain in Dalvik, Iceland.
One of the cousins was holding a mobile phone out as a light source. The search and rescue team was able to use that light to locate the cousins with the drone they had in the air, and then relay information to rescuers on the ground about how to find them.
3: Missing Teenager 'Would Have Been Found Dead' Without A Drone
Wiltshire Police deployed a drone with a thermal camera to find, and save the life of, a missing 13-year-old girl.
The teenager was taking refuge in a ditch underneath a tree, but because she was hidden by the thick vegetation, ground patrols couldn't find her. But the drone was able to detect her!
Mark Talliss, of Wiltshire Police, said: "I believe that if we didn’t have the drone, she would have been found dead in the morning."
4: Eyes In The Sky Detects High-risk Person Missing On Cliffs
Police in the UK (Devon and Cornwall and Dorset Alliance Drone Unit) used a drone with a thermal imaging camera to find a missing, semi-conscious man at the edge of a steep Exmouth cliff face.
The man was found within eight minutes of the drone being airborne and the drone operator was able to guide ground units to his exact location.
Alliance Drones said that the police's timely intervention saved the man's life, and the drone prevented hours of searching on foot by multiple agencies
5: Missing 88-year-old Man Found, Thanks To Drone
Team members from search and rescue, police and fire teamed up to search for a missing 88-year-old man who had gone missing from his home in Brownsville, Texas. A drone was deployed as part of their efforts.
At 11pm, the drone located him in tall grass in a field by a levee, a location that might have been difficult to locate by searchers working only with the information they could gather on foot and by car.
Brownsville's Deputy Fire Chief Cesar Pedraza said he felt that the use of the drone saved the man's life.
Adoption Rates Are 'Skyrocketing'
With this in mind, it is perhaps no surprise that more and more public safety departments are turning to drone technology.
DJI's Romeo Durscher said: "Adoption rates are really skyrocketing. Over the last four years, we have seen an over 500% adoption rate in public safety and we are still very early on.
"What we see in the United Kingdom is a really amazing use-case portfolio. Those are the ones that we want to highlight because it shows the potential of the technology."
The emergence of drones as enterprise tools (including for construction, infrastructure, surveying, etc) was demonstrated at AirWorks 2019, with DJI stating that the commercial drone business has grown by 80 per cent in the last year and that leading organisations are scaling up.
Incredibly, the US drone market has advanced two-to-three years faster than expected, DJI said.
DJI Unveils Disaster Relief Programme
To build on this amazing work, DJI unveiled the new Disaster Relief Programme at AirWorks 2019.
The initiative will support first responders in the United States with access to DJI’s industry-leading drone technology, for response and recovery efforts during and after major disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes and local emergencies.
Mr Durscher said: "This programme builds on DJI’s growing commitment to the public safety industry, as more than 900 public safety organisations across the United States, including the Los Angeles Fire Department, are deploying DJI drones for life-saving activities.
“To date, at least 278 people around the world have been rescued from peril by drones and this programme will ensure that many more lives are saved by mitigating the risks to emergency responders on the ground and on the front lines of natural disasters.”
Through the Disaster Relief Programme, DJI will work with pre-selected US-based partners - including Los Angeles Fire Department, Menlo Park Fire Protection District, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, and Public Safety Unmanned Response Team North Texas - to equip state and local public safety agencies with its leading hardware and software technologies.
Drone hardware and software distributed through the programme will include DJI’s most advanced technologies, including the DJI Matrice 200 Series and Mavic 2 Enterprise series drones, accessories and batteries, powerful visual and thermal cameras, DJI’s FlightHub drone fleet management software, and DJI AeroScope for airspace management and unauthorised drone detection and mitigation.
In addition, DJI will provide technical support, repair services, and on-site manpower to help organisations more effectively and efficiently deploy drone technology in times of need.
Which DJI Drones Can Help Save Lives?
Heliguy is a DJI Gold Partner and a DJI European Enterprise award winner. We stock the M200 Series, Mavic 2 Enterprise drones, and a range of payloads to help rescue missions.
We look after more than 40 of the UK's emergency services and have delivered specialist training to a range of police forces.
The drones in the Matrice series are powerful and rugged performers, with more than 30 minutes of flight time, boasting an IP43 rating and capable of carrying multiple payloads, including the top-class zoom camera, the Z30; the XT2 thermal sensor; or third-party payloads, like cameras in the ViewPro range, or the recently-released U10 Methane Leakage Detector, Z15 Spotlight, or the FLIR MUVE C360 muli-gas detector.
Thanks to this capability, these UAVs offer plenty of scope for a variety of missions, from surveillance to search and rescue, and have become a firm favourite with the emergency services.
Aside from the Matrice Series, other drones available to help the emergency services include DJI’s Mavic 2 Enterprise and Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual; the latter having a thermal camera.
One of the perks of these drones is that they are small, foldable and easily transportable/deployable, and come with three accessories – a loudspeaker, dual spotlight and beacon. These tools can be invaluable in certain situations – for instance, the speaker can be used to provide vital information to an injured person from afar.
To learn more about any of the drones or payloads mentioned in this article, or to find out how Heliguy can start, support or scale your enterprise drone programme, send us an email, visit our website, or give us a call. If you are calling from the UK, dial 0191 296 1024, or if you are calling from America, call 862-298-5964.