By Christopher Todd, sUAS News
Last year’s hurricane season was a benchmark year for the role of drones in emergency management.
Harvey, Irma, and Maria all had varying characteristics that served well to showcase the benefits that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can provide for response and recovery operations.
However, the well-documented –- and publicized – success of those efforts is now likely to create a new problem; well-intentioned remote pilots who self-deploy to disaster scenes hoping to help save the day.
(Learn More. Hurricane Florence will bring storm surge to the Carolina coast, Virginia, and other Mid-Atlantic states. If you are near the coast, listen to local officials and keep your family safe. Courtesy of FEMA and YouTube. Posted on Sep 11, 2018.)
Most of us have been raised on that iconic vision of the Lone Ranger galloping into trouble on his white horse “Silver.”
Superman, Wonder Woman — whichever icon you choose to use — the storyline is always the same; a single person with special capabilities and a keen sense of compassion coming in to rescue the helpless.
Unfortunately, disasters are not fiction and even the Lone Ranger can become a problem for emergency managers when he needs a place to water his horse in the midst of a response effort.
(Learn More. FAA Acting Administrator, Dan Elwell, speaks directly to drone pilots about the impact of unauthorized drone operations near wildfires. Courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration and YouTube. Posted on Aug 8, 2018.)
While many good Samaritan remote pilots believe they can make a positive difference in a disaster, the fact is that most drone operators do not possess the fundamental training, skills, and experience to be truly effective.
UAS disaster operations are a learned skill that must be developed and exercised to become effective during a what is likely to become an extremely chaotic sequence of events.
The FAA Part 107 remote pilot certification is only the starting point for those drone operators who want to become proficient at disaster response.
(Learn More. 1 MB drone mapping: A method for disaster zones. Courtesy of trained drone operator Greg Crutsinger and YouTube. Posted on Aug 15, 2018.)
The weather immediately after a hurricane is most often deceptively perfect.
Sunny days with clear skies can mislead the uninitiated into a false sense of security — such as what happened after Hurricane Irma moved through Florida in September 2017.
What the inexperienced eye did not see was the lack of power, closed gasoline stations, no available hotel rooms, and the sparse supplies such as food and water available at those few stores that were actually open after the storm.
Mobile communications were hit or miss, meaning that if you required emergency support a cell phone may or may be of any assistance to you.
Attempting to enter restricted areas like the Florida Keys or parts of Collier county became essentially impossible for those without official credentials from a legitimate public safety or government agency, or from a critical infrastructure provider such as a power or telecommunications company working to restore services.
(Hurricane Harvey aftermath embraced the use of drones with PROPERLY TRAINED drone operators —- trained to FEMA ICS/NIMS standards — in a well COORDINATED UAS response with FEMA and local emergency management officials. Be Part of the SOLUTION, Not Part of the PROBLEM. Courtesy of Fox News and YouTube. Posted on Sep 8, 2017.)