MDFR teams up with Office of Emergency Management to show how drones will assist in hurricanes

DORAL, FLA. (WSVN) - Hurricane season has started and Miami-Dade County has created teams to use drones for search and rescue missions in case of an emergency.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews and the Office of Emergency Management met on Monday morning in Doral to demonstrate how the drones will be used to help residents after a hurricane.

“The fact that we can livestream video is a huge advantage,” said MDFR Special Operations Chief Jeff Suarez.

When asked whether the new technology will save time, Suarez replied, “Absolutely, time. Time is lives.”

The drone program aims to assist during what officials call “high hazard assignments,” including search and rescue efforts in the aftermath of a hurricane.

“A lot of these drones do have zoom capability. They do have infrared capability. They have 4K-quality camera,” said Suarez.

Officials said the drones will give MDFR the opportunity to search a large amount of impacted areas in a short time frame.

Teams comprised of a drone operator and visual observer are able to relay messages back to incident commanders to help make better tactical decisions.

With the start of the 2019 hurricane season on Saturday, about a million homes in Miami-Dade County will have special door tags. The green tags mean the occupants are safe, and the red tags alert crews that someone in that home is in need of assistance.

Crews showcased how the unmanned aerial vehicle will search for green and red tagged doors as homeowners are expected to use the signs in the event of a hurricane hitting South Florida.

“The idea is that the drone will survey a certain area, and we’re going to be looking for the red and green signs — these doorknobs, these door stops that say ‘help’ or ‘OK,'” said Suarez.

There are currently two drone teams that have been serving the county since March, but with more training, there could be as many as 10 teams.

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