For the first time, the Plymouth Fire Department had access to ultra-high-definition video of damage just hours after the blizzard slammed the coast. The images from two drones were so crisp the fire chief could not only survey erosion at White Horse Beach, he was able to zoom in and take a closer look at each home.
“The quality is unbelievable,” said Edward Bradley, Plymouth’s fire chief.
In the past, the town would have spent days walking from house to house to assess the damage.
“It saved us man hours, huge number of man hours, at a time when we didn’t have them to spare and rough conditions with snow up to waist deep,” said Bradley.
It was a little drone that captured that time-saving video. Brewster Ambulance, which provides service to Plymouth, invested $20,000 in two drones and believes it’s now the only ambulance service on the East Coast to offer this high-tech service.
“We found a need in public service between search and hazmat to keep first responders safe and this was a way to do it and it gets eyes into an area that we would normally have difficulty getting into,” said Christ DiBona of Brewster Ambulance.
This drone cannot fly in restricted areas like Logan Airport.
Right now the focus is on using these drones to survey storm damage, but the fire chief says the possibilities are endless.
“If we can get a look at a forest fire ahead of time, see where it’s going,” Bradley said. “When we get a call for a possible drowning, they could be flying the drone overhead, and pick up the heat signature of a body in the water and we could get right to him immediately.”
The drones are now saving precious time in an emergency while reducing the risk to rescue crews.