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Drone Technology Used To Better Prepare For 2019 Hurricane Season

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Emergency responders in Miami-Dade County could soon be getting faster and more efficient, just in time for hurricane season 2019.

It's all thanks to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's new drone technology.

A live demonstration of the drones was held on Monday morning, drone teams showed those in attendance how the technology would be used to help firefighters in search and rescue efforts in the aftermath of a hurricane and more.

MDFR Drone
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's new drone technology.

According to Special Operations Division Chief Jeff Suarez, the department has successfully responded to about 40 incidents including wild land fires, building fires and structure fires, since they began testing the drones back in March.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has two drone teams so far. One serving the north end of the county and the other, the south end.

Chief Suarez said each team consists of two people, an operator and a visual observer.

"The duties of these teams are to put themselves on what we consider significant calls or high hazard assignments," said Chief Suarez. "Such as search and rescue, dive assignments, significant fires and anything that the incident commander may deem necessary for a drone team to be at."

According to Chief Suarez, responding drone teams must give the incident commander at the scene of an emergency a monitor and the drone is then flown, providing a 360-degree aerial view. The footage collected is then used by the commander or sent to the Office of Emergency Management.

Monitor MDFR Drones
Monitors will be used to see footage captured by the drone and make better decisions in the event of an emergency. (CBS4Miami)

"By deploying the drone teams, we can get imagery back to the emergency office immediately, so we can come up with a plan and mitigate the emergency faster," said Chief Suarez.

One of the expected benefits of the new technology is the time it will save, which Suarez says benefits both residents and firefighters.

"If there was roads that weren't passable, the drone I believe can cover a square block within five minutes, what would take crews typically about an hour or so," said Chief Suarez. "Time is lives."

Some of the drones are even equipped with infrared technology and can send back heat sources, according to Chief Suarez.

Miami-Dade Fire has 22 responders who are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to control the drones.

Chief Suarez said if they are all trained properly, the department could have up to 10 teams.

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