Manatee County officials explore use of drones to assist 911

Manatee County could be on the verge of leading the way in a new type of emergency response. The county is just a few approvals away from becoming one of the first in the country to use drones during a 911 incident.

The technology wouldn’t take the place of emergency personnel, it would just provide assistance faster. The hope is that quicker assistance could lead to more lives saved. 

The self-flying drone that the county is considering is actually designed for emergency situations. The drone would be dispatched at the 911 operators' discretion, and it would be used to deliver things like an AED, a tourniquet or Narcan. 

Along with the medical instrument, the drone would also bring with it instructions for how to use the device. However, the 911 operator who took the call and dispatched the drone would also stay on the line to talk the caller through the process of how to use those items.  

Archer First Response Systems, LLC is the company behind this idea. Their hope is the  drone would be able to beat emergency personnel to the scene to provide assistance faster, such as getting an AED to someone experiencing cardiac arrest, saving valuable time that could end up saving someone’s life. 

Because this would be a pilot-program, there are still many logistics that need to be figured out. However, on Thursday, the county gave the program their stamp of approval. Because this is a drone program, the FAA still needs to review the program and give their approval as well.

If they do approve, then the county can move forward with the pilot program. If that happens, Manatee County could be one of the first counties in the country to implement this life-saving drone technology in their emergency response plan.