Austin-Travis County EMS launches drone team
The SPARTAN team will leverage aircraft and thermal imaging to aid in search and rescue operations and more
By Laura French
AUSTIN, Texas — Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) in Texas has launched a new drone program that will aid in search and rescue missions, large incident management, fire support and more.
The agency announced Thursday that the Public Safety Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) program will consist of a "SPARTAN" team of 16 pilots and a fleet of 15 aircraft with varying capabilities, including three drones equipped with thermal imaging technology. SPARTAN stands for "Special Projects - Aerial Recon - Transport - Aid - Navigation," ATCEMS officials said.
The 16 SPARTAN team members hold FAA Part 107 certification and have completed a 45-hour training program to pilot the aircraft in public safety operations. Among the agency's fleet are three Autel EVO II Dual drones equipped with FLIR Boson 640x512 Thermal Cameras.
"This technology can be used to locate lost or injured patients, assist in locating fire ground hot-spots not readily visible by ground personnel, and provide pilot navigation assistance during low-light and nighttime operations," officials wrote.
The SPARTAN team will assist ATCEMS and other area public safety agencies in search and rescue, mass casualty/large incident management, medic safety/overwatch, special event crowd monitoring, fire support and emergency management support operations. For the next phase of the program, the agency hopes to utilize its aircraft for the delivery of critical medical equipment, such as AEDs, and medications directly to the patient's location.
So far, the program has been utilized in real-world operations totaling more than 45 hours of flight time, including six public safety missions and two emergency operations center support missions, according to ATCEMS.