A simplistic definition of DFR is a system of pre-positioned drones that respond immediately to emergencies. DFR’s primary goals are to arrive before ground units and to provide first responders with a birds-eye view of an incident. In this respect, the drone is an extension or avatar for an experienced incident manager/commander (IC), and fundamentally an experienced IC is what agencies actually want on scene quickly, not the drone.

So, when developing DFR solutions, consider what features and capabilities are necessary to enable the DFR pilot to arrive quickly and observe and communicate effectively. And when searching for the right person to be the DFR pilot, ask a field supervisor you trust: “If there was a major critical incident right now, who would you want first on scene?” Whomever that is, they are likely your best choice for a DFR pilot, even if they’ve never flown a drone before.

By Fritz Reber