Drones Redefine Emergency Response in Northern Ontario

Drones are steadily becoming a crucial part of the toolkit for emergency services in Northern Ontario, promising safer and more efficient operations. The Greater Sudbury Services (GSPS) has been capitalizing on these benefits since 2020, and they're eager to expand their program.

Inspector Marc Brunette of GSPS remarked, “[Drone] technology is getting more accessible, more affordable and with enhancements of technology we've found some great successes early into the program.”

Their squad, currently composed of eight officers, is set to grow to twelve by 2024.

In 2023 alone, the GSPS launched drones 34 times for tasks including , issuing warrants, and reconstructing traffic accidents. The use of drones has significantly improved officer safety.

“Traditionally we put an officer in those positions and now we can deploy the RPAS program and have a glance from a distance,” said Brunette.

Officer Jacques Roberge, one of GSPS's first drone pilots, has found drones invaluable for traffic situations. They provide a real-time perspective, which is crucial when collecting evidence.

Roberge noted that “drones give just a true perspective of what we see at the time, and it's the best evidence.”

Insp. Marc Brunette, Serving As The Commander For The Drone Unit, Collaborates With Const. Jacques Roberge, Who Holds The Distinction Of Being Among The Initial Cadre Of Drone Pilots Trained By The Greater Sudbury Police Services.
Insp. Marc Brunette, serving as the commander for the drone unit, collaborates with Const. Jacques Roberge, who holds the distinction of being among the initial cadre of drone pilots trained by the Greater Sudbury Police Services.

Moosonee, a community of 3,000, has also harnessed the power of drones. Volunteer Fire Chief Scott Grant described the technology as a “game changer.”

The community drone, procured at a cost of $40,000, has already saved lives and reduced risk and operational time. For example, it assisted in locating a woman stranded on an ice chunk in the Moose River and identifying hotspots during wildfires.

However, the increasing usage of drones has raised concerns about privacy laws. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario's former privacy commissioner, has urged an investigation into the police services' use of drones.

Despite these concerns, Brunette asserted that drone operators follow the Aeronautics Act and Canadian Aviation Regulations. “Despite being police and despite responding to emergencies, we're still required to comply with those legislative requirements,” he affirmed.

Photo courtesy of Casey Stranges / CBC.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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