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The Future Is Now: Emergency Response Teams Use Drones To Save Lives

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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Emergency response teams all across Europe are testing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology to provide assistance for their many, often life-saving operations.

From search and rescue to fire surveillance, UAV’s — or drones as they are more popularly called — equip law enforcement and incident response teams with capabilities that are almost impossible to get without the technology.

The New York Times detailed how four separate teams from Britain, Denmark, Iceland and Ireland are participating in a three-day training program in Copenhagen to explore the many uses of drone technology, as well as master the art of using the machinery. The program is organized by European Emergency Number Association (EENA), which is a non-government organization “set up in 1999 dedicated to promoting high-quality emergency services reached by the number 112 throughout the EU [European Union],” according to its website.

The groups will use the drones in simulated emergency situations and then give feedback on the drills. Thomas Sylvest, Denmark’s first and only emergency service drone pilot, was the primary instructor during the training program.

“During a recent fire in downtown Copenhagen” Sylvest “was able to beam high-definition images from high above, allowing his bosses to judge if a building’s wall would collapse,” according to the New York Times. In a separate incident, Danish police called Sylvest and requested that he fly his drone over a long stretch of train tracks to search for a man reported missing.

The training program comes only months after two European fire departments started testing drones during emergency situations. The Greater Copenhagen Fire Department in Denmark and Donegal Mountain Rescue Team In Ireland are the beneficiaries of a partnership between Chinese drone company Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI) and EENA.

Deputy executive director of EENA, Tony O’Brien, described said the group seek “to better understand how challenges in terms of logistics and data-analysis and integration can be overcome to fully realize the benefits of drones in emergency and humanitarian crisis situations.”

Hendrik Bödecker, co-founder of Drone Industry Insights, an analytics company based in Hamburg, believes that Europe is ahead of the curve because “Europeans started giving out commercial licenses years ago. They just have more experience.”

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