How Drones Help Emergency Responders Save Lives?

In the past, emergency responders used ambulances, helicopters, vans, and sometimes boats during emergencies like floods, natural disasters, accidents, etc. These were helpful, but had their limitations. As technology advanced, newer devices took over these traditional methods. 

Among such new technologies are unmanned aerial vehicles i.e. drones. Research shows that the market share of drones for medicine / healthcare had an estimated value of 88.2 million USD in 2018, expected to witness a 24.7% CAGR from 2019 to 2025.

Drones are being widely adopted by police and fire departments, emergency operations, public safety agencies, etc. to monitor, assess real-time situations, search and rescue missions, fire fighting, etc. Statistics show that the first 72 hours are critical when any environmental disaster strikes, and responding quickly during those hours can save lives and minimize damage. 

Areas where Drones Help Emergency Responders:


In the healthcare sector, drones help deliver medicines to doctors and other healthcare professions who can provide quick treatment and save lives. They help respond to the emergency faster than ground transportation. In the case of a heart attack, an automatic defibrillator can be sent to the patient via a drone, along with a video explanation of how it can be used; even a bystander can view this video and administer this to save lives. 

When there is an urgent need for medicines, vaccines, and blood products such as plasma and platelets from blood banks to the local areas, drones can provide faster delivery, with less effort. 

Search and Rescue Operations

Drones are now used more frequently in Search and Rescue operations, whereas earlier, human resources were used for this task. Using drones, one can quickly scan large areas, aerially, using an HD video camera and thermal camera. During skiing, when people go missing, it becomes difficult for people to search and rescue from the ground. It is worthwhile to note the case in Boston where emergency responders (in this case, police) used drones to locate a victim and her attacker. 

Fire Emergencies

In the case of fires, drones help firefighters get accurate data in real-time. Using this data, personnel can determine where a fire will move next; they can also track and map the fire patterns, which assist them in making swift decisions and coming up with a plan. In California forest fires, drones have been quite useful. Drones help detect, contain, and extinguish fires; they can be used to locate a hot spot and then deliver water to the exact affected area. 

Drones are better than helicopters and other manned aircraft, as they are cheaper and easier to maneuver. The data collected is unique and correct as they fly low, slow, and for a more extended period. 

Natural Disasters

In natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc., it is difficult for emergency responders to assess the damage and provide help to the devastated areas. Though the traditional methods might be helpful, the need of the hour is speed and accuracy of data to make quick decisions.  Drones help survey the areas where personnel cannot reach. These drones can also be used as temporary communication devices e.g. wi-fi hotspots and thus help in areas where the cell towers may be damaged. Furthermore, drones are also being used in a) environmental conservation initiatives, b) by police personnel to fight crime and c) to monitor and track crime suspects. 

Now let us see how having a software fleet management system helps emergency responders to handle drone operations.

How does a Fleet Management System Work?

For example, a cloud-based application called FlytNow provides a unified dashboard that provides live video streaming from all drones which are connected to the service, and can be used by a remote operator as a command center.

Custom drones are connected to the cloud via SBC while DJI drones are connected using the FlytOS mobile app.

Here are few benefits that drone fleet management systems provide to emergency responders:

The Fleet Management System comes fully equipped with a mission planner that allows the operator to control many drones from a single location as a response to an emergency.

Operators can also plan the exact route of the drone so that it can follow a path without any human intervention, which in an emergency scenario could help save someone as part of a search and rescue mission.

The Fleet Management System allows for live video streaming from many drones to a single dashboard, which could be useful in case of a forest fire.

FlytNow, for instance, comes embedded with REST APIs which can be integrated with emergency response systems such as 911; such integration allows for the operators to quickly dispatch drones from their command center on receiving a distress signal.

Intelligent features like object detection based on AI can be used for search and rescue operations over a large area. When a person is found, it can pinpoint the location and intimate the responders.


In this article, we have seen how drone technologies when combined with an intelligent software solution like Fleet Management System can aid emergency response and make the work of emergency response teams safer, faster, easier, cheaper.