Demonstration Shows Technology That Can Help First Responders During Disasters

Drones and robots are already being used by the Tulsa Fire Department, but the capability of that technology is always advancing, so first responders want to be ready for what could soon be standard practice in emergency response.

Tuesday, March 26th 2024, 6:40 pm

By: Matt Rahn


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First Responders in Tulsa are getting a look at new technology that could change the way they save lives. 

A demonstration at OSU Tulsa is showing how drones and robotic dogs would respond to an emergency.

Drones and robots are already being used by the Tulsa Fire Department, but the capability of that technology is always advancing, so first responders want to be ready for what could soon be standard practice in emergency response.

With a loud buzz, a drone slowly descends from the sky carrying precious cargo as a dog-like robot waits to pick it up.

"In this case, it's really a demonstration showing how we can do an emergency blood delivery from a hospital directly to the field," said Dr. Jamey Jacob. 

It takes a team of drone pilots and robot experts to pull this off, but Dr. Jacob with the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute says the idea is to make this process fully automated. 

"This is one of those tools that every first responder is going to eventually have within their tool kit, so us demonstrating this and pushing the technology forward here in Tulsa is a game changer," said Jacob.

The Tulsa Fire Department has been using similar tech for nearly ten years.

"Basically, you can cover more area with less people," said TFD drone pilot Gabriel Graveline.

He says using drones for something like blood delivery would be a game-changer. 

"Being able to save a life, being able to send a robot into harm's way as opposed to a person. You can't put a price tag on that," said Graveline. 

He has been a firefighter for 17 years and has seen everything from hurricanes to house fires, situations where first responders could really benefit from having better resources.

"I just see so much potential for this technology I think we're moving in the right direction," said Graveline. 

The Tulsa fire department says they're currently working on a program that would allow drones to respond to scenes autonomously ahead of fire crews to give them a better heads up of what to expect. 

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