"Key Value Of Drones Is Receiving Information Incredibly Fast."
For first responders, deploying a drone is a quicker and more cost-effective solution than sending out a helicopter.
For instance, buying a DJI M300 RTK with a H20T sensor - which has zoom, thermal, wide-angle, and laser rangefinder capabilities - costs less than $20,000. In comparison, one report has indicated that first responder helicopters cost roughly $500,000 to $3 million. The helicopter’s operating costs of $200 to $400 per hour and the maintenance bills increase this expense - making it far more costly than a drone.
Drones also have the advantage of being quieter, making them better placed during covert operations, while their ability to fly lower to the ground is useful, especially in times of cloud cover.
For example, Los Angeles Fire Department's air operations used to be carried out by a number of department-owned helicopters. But there were challenges.
For instance, it would take each helicopter about an hour to make a round-trip flight from the incident scene back to the helipad. Flying in urban environments also provided hurdles; the helicopters were not allowed to fly below a certain minimum altitude, and they were loud, making it difficult to capture actionable intel. So, LAFD invested in drones, which provided the perfect balance - cheaper, quicker, and quieter to operate.
Chief Richard Fields said: "The information gap between helicopter pilots and our men on the ground is what led us to integrate drones into our department. Drones have provided us with real-time communication, which we can quickly share with incident commanders. The key value of drones during emergencies is receiving useful information incredibly fast."