Drones giveth, drones taketh away. It appears that while drone use help facilitate a more efficient action in emergencies, drones can also cause delays. Civilian drones, to be specific. In case of emergencies in the field, responders need a free space to take charge. Fires, for example, require open roads to make sure firetrucks get to their destinations. For air space, helicopters and official drones need the open air to move around unobstructed.
Canada Wildfire Drone Incident:
That is where the problem comes when it comes to civilian drones. It seems people are just curious to see what all the commotion is – regardless of whether they are disrupting or not. Several instances in the past involved obstruction by drones. Usually they disrupt flights coming in and out of airports. On some occasions, they disrupt firefighting efforts.
In Nakusp, a village in Canada, a wildfire battled by responders faced problems with a civilian drone. The firefighters, in the middle of controlling the fire in Wilson Creek, spotted a drone in the area. This proved to be quite the predicament since it put aerial responders at risk. Because of the risk that their aircrafts may collide with the drone, they could not enter the area. Aerial coverage is important in these wildfires – not only for their vision – but also for water support.
The drone incident made the helicopter used by the responders to stay on the ground. This limited the chopper’s use and availability during the wildfire crisis. Not only did the helicopter suffer. Several support aircrafts coming to the area had to divert to avoid crashing into the drone. This created a rather complicated mess to an otherwise straight-up mission. A wild drone – one flying device no bigger than a bag – created a large mess. A mess, mind you, that took responders hours to fix, and may have caused the fire to ravage further than expected.
The owner of the drone is facing ticket fines over a thousand dollars for the incident. There is also a risk of more fines, going through $100,000 as well as imprisonment for up to or even over a year. But as always the case in these incidents, the drone owner was nowhere to be found. After police dispatched into the area, nobody was seen with the drone in question.