Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Unmanned Aerial Devices

"People are starting to think of UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] as not just science fiction, but real-life tools. I wouldn't be surprised if, within two years, it's standard for every fire engine to have a UAV on board."
Philip Reece, CEO, InDro Robotics
Paramedics drone
UAV operator and paramedic James Power flies a drone in Renfrew Ontario Tuesday April 12, 2016. The Renfrew County paramedic department uses a drone to fly over crash scenes and natural disasters to check out whats going on. (Tony Caldwell/Postmedia Networks)

"What if it had been possible to know more about the situation on Calabogie Lake [where a snowmobiler crashed through the lake urgently requiring rescue]? Of if there was a technology that could, say, deliver a rope to the desperate man hanging on to that wafer of ice?"
"It [use of a drone] identifies the likely injuries [for first responders]. It lets  you prepare for a situation that otherwise would be in the moment."
Paramedic chief Michael Nolan, Renfrew, Ontario
The drone was used for aerial surveillance when OPP were investing the scene of a homicide in Foymount last September.
The drone was used for aerial surveillance when OPP were investing the scene of a homicide in Foymount last September. Tony Caldwell/Postmedia Network

Infamously, drones have been used by the American military to target and dispatch to Kingdom Come the CEOs of Terrorism International. They have become weapons of distance-destruction, safeguarding the lives of their operators while eradicating those of the Islamist jihadis for whom non-Muslims have become a moving target in the death game they have become skilled at.

But there are other plans for the use of these UAVs, mostly in the field of commercial deliverables, and in due time we'll hear and see far more about them as they are deployed in the name of commerce. There are multiple uses for drones, however, as eyes in the sky capable of manoeuvring their way into spaces not given to larger airborne vehicles, and at far less cost to deploy.

Several years back Renfrew paramedic chief Michael Nolan thought there must be a way that people involved in rescue could bring modern technology to aid in the preliminary work of gathering data before the paramedics themselves become involved at the actual rescue, to prepare them for what they would find, and what they should bring to the effort.

It often is, after all, a matter of life and death when people find themselves in desperately threatening situations and time is of the essence to help them find their way back to safety and security. The geographic area representing chief Nolan's jurisdiction is vast, stretching over ten thousand square kilometres. When he became aware that one of his crew had military experience with drones he began considering how his unit might procure one of their own and deploy it for life-saving purposes.

The video images that a drone could send back to aid first responders be more effectively efficient was of tremendous interest to Mr. Nolan. So he and paramedic James Power, took eventual possession of a modified drone reflecting in particular what paramedics would profit by having. Their drone was modified for their use by InDro Robotics and Technology of British Columbia. And not only has the drone proven to be indispensable for the Renfrew paramedic services but others as well.

The drone was seconded by the Ontario Provincial Police to obtain a bird's-eye view of a homicide scene in Foymount. Police were tracking the path of a killer of three women. There were unknowns to be dealt with: was the armed intruder still in the house? ...where were the exits? ... where was the victim's 20-year-old son? The use of the drone helped to clarify these issues and expedited the work of the police.

During a forest fire near Eganville in the spring of last year, the drone aided in identification of hot spots for the firefighters. A month ago the drone was used to film the scene of a landslide that had succeeded in plunging several hectares of Leda clay and the trees standing on it into the Bonnechere River. The difficult-to-access area was accessed by the drone, enabling responders to view a natural dam that the slide had created, giving the location and the extent of the ensuing damage.

The regulatory framework imposed by Transport Canada for the use of drones mandates they can be used only within the operator's range of vision. The Renfrew paramedics have requested an exemption to permit them to deploy the drone any time, anywhere that appropriate conditions apply. Weapons-mounted drones have taken away life, Mr. Nolan foresees a time when drones can be used for the delivery of life-saving medications such as an EpiPen to rescue someone in anaphylactic shock.

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