UAV Deployments in Disaster Relief

Best practices for deploying UAVs in disaster relief scenarios, including the COVID-19 response

11 AM PDT, Wednesday, April 15, 2020

How are drones impacting disaster relief efforts by public safety agencies across North America and the globe? Find out from DJI’s public safety experts on how this technology is currently being used, what methods have been tested in the field throughout the United States, and what this could mean for efforts in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Romeo Durscher, Senior Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI, and Wayne Baker, Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI, will be discussing how agencies have been assessing new relief measures that integrate drones into their workflows during a crisis.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Applications of drone technology by public safety agencies in previous disaster relief efforts
  • A view of how nations across the world are using drone technology amidst the pandemic
  • A review of the use cases that have been implemented in North America so far and which ones are proving to be effective
  • Looking ahead to how this could impact future disaster responses
  • Open Q&A period

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Meet the Panelists

Romeo Durscher
Senior Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI

Romeo Durscher

Romeo Durscher is the Senior Director of Public Safety Integration, the world’s leading maker of unmanned aerial vehicles. Born and raised in Switzerland, Romeo came to DJI after 13 years of working at NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory where he did project management, education and public outreach. He’s an industry expert advising and educating first responders, humanitarian organizations, industries, governments and individuals on the beneficial use, incorporation, and safe integration of DJI hardware and software to their missions.

The past several years Romeo has worked on various first responder and humanitarian projects to gain insight into the needs and challenges of fire fighters, search and rescue personnel, law enforcement and special ops, as well as humanitarian organizations. Romeo has deployed to large scale disasters as part of a Public Safety UAV Task Force, such as the:

  • October 2017 Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa (at the time most destructive fire in California history; 5,600+ structures and 22 lives lost),
  • August 2018 Carr Fire in Redding (at the time the 6th most destructive fire in California history; 1,600+ structures and 8 lives lost),
  • November 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise (the most destructive fire in California history and the most expensive natural disaster in the world in 2018; 18,800+ structures and 85 lives lost). 

Romeo has actively participated in real-life search and rescue scenarios, has used drones during live fire training exercises, active shooter and SWAT mission exercises, has observed first responder processes, and has worked with humanitarian organizations on collecting pre and post-disaster data by means of drone.

Wayne Baker
Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI


Wayne Baker is a 26 year veteran of the fire service and recently retired after 10 years as the Fire Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Joshua. Throughout his career he consistently sought out new technology that could save the lives of the public as well as public safety personnel. Over the past five years he operated UAS on numerous fires, rescues incidents, assisted on law enforcement operations, as well as disaster response. He serves as one of the founding members of the North Central Texas Public Safety UAS Response Team (PSURT) with whom he has deployed to such disasters as Hurricane Harvey and most recently the Dallas Tornado Incident of October 20, 2019.


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