When it comes to wildfires, there aren’t too many silver linings to be found. They often lead to damaged property, harm to local ecosystems, loss of power, loss of telecommunications access, and even fatalities. The damage caused by a wildfire can take years to fully recover.Continue reading “Utilizing Drones During Wildfires”
GenPac is working in collaboration with Unmanned Tactical Group, a company that is filling a gap in the market by providing specialized unmanned aircraft system (UAS) training. Currently, in the US, there is no standardization of drone training within the first responders’ sector, whether that is Law Enforcement firefighters or medical professionals.
We are extremely excited at their offerings and we hope that first responder drone users see that same value.
The current state of UAS training in the USA
Under current rules, a drone pilot must take a Remote Pilot License (Part 107) from the FAA. To achieve this, students take a basic Airman’s knowledge test that only evaluates their ability to learn facts and operations. Once they’ve passed this, pilots can operate a drone in a commercial capacity without ever flying a drone.
This doesn’t take into account the myriad different applications of drones across various industries. A drone pilot working in the film industry would need very different skills to one working in the construction industry, for example. Despite this, there are no standardized drone training programs for each industry. In many cases, that’s the equivalent of handing out a driving license to someone and letting them drive a firetruck, an 18-wheeler, or a Formula 1 car.
Unmanned Tactical Group – with the support of GenPac drones – are attempting to change this, and are offering drone training that is ‘for First-Responders, by First-Responders
Drone training for first responders
Unmanned Tactical Group is made up of 11 instructors from a variety of different public safety professions. They employ paramedics, police officers, and firefighters, all of whom offer bespoke courses that teach their contemporaries how to use drones in the line of duty. They were founded to bridge the gap in drone skills in the Public Safety industry and to help provide some level of standardization of UAS training that currently does not exist.
Drone training that is required by law to pilot a drone falls well short of what Public Safety officials require to operate safely in the field. Training courses by Unmanned Tactical Group teach professionals how to operate safely, efficiently and within regulations while piloting a drone for emergency operations.
The company was founded on the principle of “for First-Responders, by First-Responders’’. All students are taught by current or former Public Safety officials on a variety of different courses.
Why was Unmanned Tactical Group Founded?
With the lack of suitable drone training for first responders available, Brandon Karr – Co-Founder and Lead Instructor at Unmanned Tactical Group – decided to change that. He realized that the only way to make changes to the quality of training in the industry was to do it from within. All Public Safety officials are expected to carry out lifelong learning and training. This could be anything from learning new regulations, to learning new cutting edge techniques. Therefore, professionals in the industry are well equipped to take on new information. However, what’s missing is standardized UAS training programs.
Unmanned Tactical Group are looking to fix that. By teaching these programs from within, the hope is that over time drone skills will become another standard tool in first responders’ arsenal.
Karr said: “Training is the tip of the spear with today’s first responders. Unmanned Tactical Group has gathered some of the best instructors Public Safety has to offer in an effort to provide experience, expertise and technical know-how to front-line professionals across the country. Our partnership with GenPac allows us to maximize our reach to those agencies all while providing cutting edge and affordable training to GenPac’s customers.”
What types of training are available?
The trainers at Unmanned Tactical Group are considered some of the most reputable in this emerging training vocation. Their expert team covers a variety of different drone applications across a number of two and three day courses.
Their UAS Public Safety program introductory course is suitable for complete beginners, or drone pilots who have only completed a standard drone course in the past. This runs through all of the different regulations they need to be aware of as Public Safety drone operators, as well as the basics of drone operation. The students will come away with a better understanding of the aircraft systems themselves as UTG’s instructors are experts in most of the commercially available drones in the market today.
There are other – more specialized – courses suited to a variety of different first responder scenarios. The Disaster Response course teaches first responders how to deal with natural disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and avalanches. They will learn how to use drones to coordinate their responses to disasters while understanding the basics of mapping and creating orthomosaics.
Other courses include crime scene mapping, augmented HAZMAT response, and UAS search and rescue, and basic thermography for UAS which does a deep dive into understanding how a thermal sensor works and best practices for its use during your operations. The Crash/crime scene mapping course shows first responders how to gather data at a crash/crime scenes quickly and efficiently. Then use the captured data to make highly accurate products for crash and crime scene investigations. The UAS for HazMat response course teaches students how to effectively use their UAS in more advanced tactical situations such as air monitoring, chemical detection and thermal imaging. Meanwhile, the search and rescue course teaches First-Responders how to use drones to complement a boots on the ground response whether it be a missing person or a wanted subject.
While boots on the ground remain necessary, a drone can give ground teams additional information that helps them complete their task. The UAS Night Operations course teaches the students how to utilize these systems while flying during low-light or no-light situations. They will learn to better understand thermal technology and how to effectively use it during night operations.
The UAS tactical operations course is a more advanced course that is suitable for a drone pilot working in any Public Safety who has intermediate skills or higher. This course teaches them how to carry out more advanced tasks such as operating drones indoors, high speed vehicle takedowns, payload delivery, and much more.
Unmanned Tactical Group offers a variety of other courses aimed at Public Safety officials such as Legal concerns for Public Safety, Public safety Program management and so on. We will continue to partner with them over the coming years, and hope they will achieve their aim of standardizing drone training within the industry.
Drones are becoming an essential tool for first responders across the world. Interested in using drones to help your Public Safety team work more efficiently? Contact Aaron Lambert, an industry leader in Public Safety Drone Programs, for more information: Alambert@generalpacific.com
Or visit our site- www.GenPacdrones.com
Earlier this month, GenPac Drones helped the Rebuild Paradise Foundation train the drone pilots of the future as part of the Inaugural Paradise Ridge Drone Camp in Paradise, CA. This part of northern California was devastated by the ‘Camp Fire’ wildfire in 2018, and the Foundation is a non-profit organization working to rebuild the area.
Paradise Ridge Drone Camp
The event was held as a career opportunity for high school students who had been affected by Camp Fire. It was a joint effort between the Rebuild Paradise Foundation, Paradise Recreation and Parks Department, and GenPac Drones and DJI.
Charles Brooks, from the Rebuild Paradise Foundation, was the lead tutor at the weekend, enlisting the help of GenPac Drones to provide equipment and expertise. The aim was to teach rural children, who are from an area that’s recovering from the devastating wildfire, new skills that combine emerging technology with working outdoors.
When Charles got in touch with us early on to see if we’d be interested in getting on board, we couldn’t say yes quickly enough. We attended one day of the event, and brought a whole fleet of drones with us, including models such as the DJI M-300. This allowed the students to get hands-on with the technology, and have opportunities that many professionals don’t even get to have. Indeed, each student was offered the opportunity to fly a drone on the day, which contributed massively to their experience.
We also put Charles in touch with DJI, which allowed the Foundation to get access to drones on loan. This meant that the students were able to use DJI Mini 2 drones when not flying our larger platforms, giving them even more flight time and experience across the weekend.
On the final day of camp, the students rounded off their experience by giving individual presentations to an audience of industry professionals, county schools leadership, the local parks department, parents, and other members of the community. They each put together a 3-minute video showcasing the footage, thermal imagery, and photography they’d taken, as well as mapping work they did with the various drones. The students also answered questions from the audience and wrapped up the event with flying demonstrations.
Charles Brooks, of the Rebuild Paradise Foundation, said: “Gen-Pac has been – and continues to be – an incredible resource, supporter, and partner in everything we do to support the recovery of our community… I knew if we could get Aaron [Lambert] or a team member there with some demo equipment, our students would get a whole new level of experience and access. Well, Aaron [Lambert] and his team member Chad delivered big time.
“I am confident that our camp would not have had the same level of impact and impression on our students had Gen-Pac not said yes.”
So, the event was a resounding success. But why teach these students about drones in the first place? That’s because drones are a key tool in the fight against wildfires, both in terms of prevention, and gathering data to rebuild afterward.
Drones and the fight against wildfires
Drones are becoming invaluable tools in the fight against wildfires, both as a preventative measure, and to help survey the damage following a fire. This is why GenPac wanted to help the Rebuild Paradise Foundation train the drone pilots of the future, so they can help their communities limit damage from wildfires, and assist in rebuilding after a wildfire occurs. Find out more info about this on our other post: Utilizing Drones During Wildfires
After a fire has occurred, one of the primary ways drones can help is as a tool to survey and inspect the damage that has been caused. Drones can collect this data much quicker and much more accurately than teams on the ground, or teams using helicopters. Teams on the ground are slow, and often have to take many more precautions due to health and safety concerns. They also can’t get a bird’s eye image that a drone can.
While helicopter crews can get that bird’s eye image, there are issues with this method too. Similar to having boots on the ground, there are safety concerns around flying too close to the ground. Additionally, chartering a helicopter is very expensive.
On the other hand, drones are quicker and cheaper than deploying either ground crews or helicopter crews. They can get more data in less time, which is invaluable to teams in charge of rebuilding. It is impossible to start a rebuild until the affected area has been completely surveyed, something that takes a long time when done the old-fashioned way.
Drones are safer
Compared to using ground crews or chartering a helicopter, drones are a much safer way of gathering data from a wildfire site. They can get more information in less time with little to no risk to human safety. On the other hand ground crews – and to a lesser extent helicopter crews – are putting themselves at considerable risk every time they go out to survey a wildfire site. The worst thing that’s likely to happen is that a drone could become damaged or destroyed, in which case the worst impacts are financial.
Drones can also be used to mitigate wildfires, and either stop them or prevent them from becoming as devastating when they do occur. They do this by assisting with controlled burns. A controlled burn is where a section of vegetation is purposely burned in a controlled manner, in such a way that helps to protect highly populated areas.
Drones can assist in this process by carrying out an inspection from above, which gives the authorities the data they need to plan a controlled burn. Once they have all of the information required, drones can also be used to carry out the controlled burn with no need for human intervention. This is incredibly useful, since carrying out controlled burns on the ground or via helicopter is fraught with health and safety risks.
Drones are now an essential tool in the fight against wildfires worldwide. Want to learn more? Contact Chad Nelson, an industry leader in utility drones, for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.GenPacDrones.com