First Responders Test Water Rescue Drones for Use on Lake Superior

The Duluth Fire Department is looking at purchasing the drones to cut down on response times during emergency situations on the water

DULUTH, Minn. – The Duluth Fire Department got a firsthand look Tuesday at some new technology that would assist with water rescues.

Firefighters and first responders took part in a demonstration on Lake Superior, showcasing  the state-of-the-art water drones, also known as EMILY (Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard).

Each year, the Duluth Fire Department responds to an average of six water rescues by boat, typically involving rip currents.  They’re looking at adding these tools to help improve the department’s response during emergency situations.

“Time is of the essence if we can get to them in 3 or 4 minutes or less, the better,” said Brent Consie, a captain with the Duluth Fire Department. “A boat like this would go so much faster than our initial response of people.”

The drones are built with Kevlar reinforced fiberglass and designed for somebody with minimal training to operate in almost any weather condition.

“It has a top speed of about a little over 20 mph and is designed to be immediately deployed to help a drowning victim and to sustain them until help can arrive,” said Daniel Okiyama, an electrical engineer with Hyronalix who helps design the drones.

The EMILY response systems are currently being used by the fire department in Marquette, Michigan and countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

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