Florida First Responders Team Up with Drones


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For the second year in a row, rescue workers gathered in South Florida for UAS DRONES Disaster Exercises coordinated by AIRT (Airborne International Response Team) Training took place at the Florida International University (FIU) Biscayne Bay campus, reports sUASnews.com.

 Attendees included members of Florida Task Force 2 Urban Search and Rescue Team (FL-TF-2 USAR). The Task Force is made up of individuals from the City of Miami Fire Department and the Miami Beach Fire Department, FIU personnel, and members of the North Carolina State University’s Department of Emergency Management. 

All worked together to learn more about the role drones can play in a disaster situation.

 In a region that experiences dangerous hurricanes on a regular basis, drone use can save lives in the hands of trained responders. “The exercise at FIU allows our drone crews to focus on developing proficiency across a variety of disaster mission scenarios, rather than just experiencing a single exercise mission,” said Juan Ramón Mestas, Deputy Chief of the Miami Beach Fire Department.

Holding the exercises in an uncomfortably hot environment in summer also gave participants a taste of real-world operating conditions. Lt. Mark Moore, Deputy Emergency Manager for the City of Miami Fire Department said, “While we strive for technical proficiency in executing the UAS mission, we also want to ensure our flight teams are making the right decisions while operating in these extreme conditions.”

 Drone operators were tasked with piloting an Island/Maritime Search Operation, aerial reconnaissance, and damage assessment. In addition to handling controls, the operators needed to be alert to Situation Awareness Live Streaming, mapping, and Force Protection Overwatch. AIRT Executive Director Christopher Todd said there’s more work to be done, but noted, “We are now more prepared than ever to successfully operate drones during disaster operations.”  

July 22, 2019

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