Christopher Todd

Episode 002: The Perfect Storm: Hurricane Season, Wildfires, and COVID-19 with David Merrick

Episode 002: The Perfect Storm: Hurricane Season, Wildfires, and COVID-19 with David Merrick

Drones are making a difference around the world and in your neighborhood are helping to save lives and protect property. One of the areas where drones have really shown their potential is with helping to prepare for, respond to, and recover from severe tropical storms and hurricanes. 2017 really proved to be a benchmark as UAS responded to hurricanes Harvey in Texas, Urma in Florida, and Maria in Puerto Rico. UAS have been used for search and rescue, damage assessment, power restoration, and insurance claims. In 2018 and 2019, with the arrival of hurricanes, drones have continued to show their amazing potential by offering a quick, cost-effective, aviation-based capability for many response elements.   As if emergency managers don’t have enough with the COVID-19 pandemic and what appears to be the makings of an above-average wildfire season, June 1st also marked the start of the 2020 hurricane season. When it comes to hurricanes, the state of Florida sits front and center as the U.S. gateway from hurricane alley, which is why Christopher Todd, your host, is welcoming Mr. David Merrick, an expert in the use UAS for disaster management. He also serves as the UAS coordinator in the air operations branch for the Florida Department of Emergency Management and director of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security program and Center for Disaster Risk Policy at Florida State University.   Key Takeaways: [3:05] David Merrick shares how he started experimenting with robotic technology and how he started flying drones. [6:34] David Merrick talks about drones in 2012. [8:13] Advice for program managers who are getting involved in disaster management sites and building a program: 1. Keep it simple at the beginning. 2. Two is one and one is none. [11:20] David Merrick talks about his favorite drone: Parrot DISCO. [14:56] How David Merrick got involved with Florida State University. [16:49] Classes entirely focused on how to use drones in emergency management and public safety. [18:02] David Merrick shares some of the most memorable incidents he responded to. [25:20] When operations are so much more than knowing how to operate an aircraft. [26:18] David Merrick talks about his recent mission responding to wildfires in Florida. [32:08] Using drones in helping to battle the pandemic. [35:18] The importance of community acceptance for the use of drones. [36:12] The forecast for 2020 hurricane season. [37:48] Is Florida ready to respond to a major hurricane with drones? [41:02] Reach out to Volunteer Florida ESF15. [42:23] David Merrick talks about Resource Typing at FEMA. [46:05] What the future holds for UAS operations in Florida in regards to disaster operations and emergency management.   Mentioned in this episode: Airborne International Response Team Presented by AiRXOS, part of GE Aviation with additional support from FirstIZ and Pix4D AIRT is the leading 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supporting Drones For Good and Public Safety UAS Become a member of Drone Responders for free. Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program Volunteer Florida ESF15  

Duration: 49 min

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