Image: Auburn Maine Fire Department
The Auburn Maine Fire department used a drone to help rescue two boys stranded in the Little Androscoggin River. The drone was used to deploy a line to the stranded boys on rocks in the middle of the raging river. Then they used the line and drone to get a life jacket to one of the boys. Auburn Fire Chief Frank Roma stated that they had the drone for observational assistance, and that it’s active use in the river rescue was a bit of a improvisation. It is clear that rescuers will begin to depend on UAS not only for visual assistance but also to deploy life saving equipment. There are already life saving systems that first responders can buy for use with drones. Project Ryptide as we wrote about previously in the blog, is a tool for first responders that deploys an automatically inflating floatation device from a UAS for those in distress. That device costs $99, and coupled with an phantom gives first responders a very useful tool for just over $500. I expect to see UAS used in more and more emergency and recovery situations.