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Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in urban search and rescue-methodology, capacity development, and integration

Ariel Braverman, BSc, RN, EMT-P


This paper’s purpose is to establish a methodological basis for using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in urban search and rescue (USAR). Modern USAR operations involve the location, rescue (extrication), and initial medical stabilization of individuals trapped in confined spaces or places with complicated access, eg, high structures. As a part of the ongoing modernization process, this paper explores possible options for UAV utilization in USAR operations. Today, UAV are already taking part in support emergency operations all over the world, and possible forms of operation for UAV in USAR environment can be in two primary modes: on-site and logistic chain. The on-site mode includes various capabilities of multilayer UAV array, mostly based on enhanced visual capabilities to create situational awareness and to speed-up search and rescue (SAR) process including using nanodrones for entering into confined places, ventilation ducts, and underground sewer channels can give to rescue teams’ opportunities to have eyes within ruins even before initial clearing process. Cargo drones will be able to bring equipment directly to high floors or roadless areas in comparison to wheeled transportation. The advantages of cargo drones operation are the ability of autonomous flight based on GPS or homing beacon and ability to provide logistics supports without involving additional personnel and vehicles and with no dependence on road conditions.


urban search and rescue, unmanned aerial system, disaster management, innovation

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