UAV Training For First Responders: Allen Beach, Argus Rising

Have you ever wondered what goes into training first responders on using drones?

Allen Beach is President of Argus Rising, a Dallas area company committed to providing First Responder Drone training.  He is a military veteran having served in the US Coast Guard, flying hundreds of Search and Rescue Missions out of Clearwater, Florida.  Allen earned his MBA after leaving the military and is the Co-Author of “Be a Wolf” (The Entrepreneurs Guide to Becoming a Leader of The Pack).  In 1996, Allen started Argus Connection, Inc. and grew it to a multi-million dollar technology services company eventually selling the company in 2009.  In 2015, Allen launched Argus Rising and has been developing course material and teaching UAV classes since.  In this episode of the Drone Radio Show. Allen talks about training programs for first responders, the role of UAVs in public safety organizations and the challenges and rewards of building successful drone-based business.

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In this Episode

  • Introduction. Allen Beach is President of Argus Rising, a Dallas area company committed to providing First Responder Drone training. The company is three years old.  Originally, the company trained people in the commercial use of drones. The company was approached by the Hurst Police Department to develop a class for law enforcement and rescue. The class evolved into a five day boot camp, which set the stage for the company’s focus on first responders.
  • Designing a First Responder Training Program. Alan talks about what goes into creating a training program for first responders. A big part of it is simply getting people to pass the FAA Part 107 test.  After that, there are a variety of missions that first responders train on in using drones in tactical situations. Such missions include active shooters, hostage situations, search and rescue and many others. Alan shares insights into how Argus Rising structures these training classes and tailors them to law enforcement and fire fighting units.
  • Law Enforcement Priorities. Allen’s experience has been that law enforcement officials most want to get down to very specific use cases – exactly what are they really going to do with a drone to support their missions.  They know they can learn how to fly and pass the FAA test, but beyond that, they want specific, value added techinques. So Argus Rising spends a lot of time working with first responders in mastering specific scenarios with the drone. They advise against trying to do too many things at once, but rather, first responders should select a very specific use case(s)s and get really good at that use case; then expand as they get better and gain confidence and experience.
  • Training Police and Fire Departments. Police and fire units have different missions and have to be approached differently. But there are many aspects of flying a drone that are common among both units. Argus Rising has trained both police and fire at the same time on the Part 107 requirements, then they’ll split the units up and focus on training missions oriented around their roles.
  • Considerations In Developing A Program. Public safety organizations need to consider how a drone program will be integrated into their ongoing operations. Allen recommends developing operational manuals to show how the program fits into the overall operation. Presentations to City Councils or Mayors can explain what drones are, how they’re going to be used and how to set up an effective management structure. Such communication can also help in addressing concerns by citizens on how drones will be used within their community. Communities should also look into whether their public safety employees have access to continuing education to stay fully abreast of changing regulations and techniques in conducting missions.
  • In-House Or Out-Sourced. Local governments have two options in providing ongoing drone services. One is to train existing police and fire departments to fly drones and manage the operations.  The second is to contract with a third party vendor (like Argus Rising). Allen talks about the merits of each option.
  • Company Challenges. Allen discusses the challenges he and his wife have encountered in the past 3 years. One of the big challenges has been changing rules from the FAA. Another challenge has been attracting and retaining quality trainers. Fortunately, Argus Rising has been able to address these challenges and has earned a reputation for delivering high quality professional training for first responders. While there is a lot of competition in the training space, Argus Rising is almost exclusively focused on law enforcement and fire rescue, which separates them from other competitors in the space.
  • Interdrone 2017. Allen will be at Interdrone 2017, part of a panel on law enforcement.  He will also be conducting a class on the use of drones to produce orthomosaics. Alan talks about the sessions and what attendees can expect to learn.
  • Future Applications. Allen observes the dynamic changes in the drone industry, which seem to generate new use cases on a weekly basis. One emerging technology is the ability of a drone to detech chemicals or explosives with specially designed sensors. Such sensors could also detect a meth lab or other chemical concentration.
  • Local Government Decision-Making. Many times there might be a department that’s really interested establishing a new drone program, but ultimately, city councils, mayors or top administrators will make the decision. Allen talks about the need to inform and educate decision-makers on the merits of a drone program.
  • Personal Rewards. Allen shares the personal rewards derived from creating Argus Rising and achieving success. This is the second business that he and his wife have started.
  • Closing. Drone technology is still very new, with new use cases being developed. Although the industry is changing, Allen believes it’s a good time to start a drone based business, because it may be a long time before the industry settles down. According to Allen, there could not be a better time to start a drone program, get it up and running grow it into the future.

Mentioned Links

Interdrone 2017 Sessions

  • UAV Orthomosaics for Law Enforcement. Drones combined with orthomosaics bring a new dimension to crime, accident and fire scene documentation and investigations. This class will offer a unique look at the latest in technology, allowing you to quickly capture Orthophotographs and 3D models of any scene. An orthomosaic is an aerial photo corrected such that the scale is uniform: the photo has the same lack of distortion as a map. Unlike an uncorrected aerial photograph, an orthophotograph can be used to measure distances. Combining this advanced imaging software with your selected drone, an agency can document a crime, accident or fire scene within minutes of arriving on-site. Even large scenes can be captured in less than 30 minutes.   This session is an overview and will include:
    • Understanding Orthomosaics and 3D Modeling
    • Advantages of utilizing orthomosaics
    • Programming the Flight Grid
    • Capturing the Data
    • Creating an Ortho View

 

  • Panel: Opportunities for Law Enforcement, Emergency Response and Search & Rescue. When stakes are highest, effective use of UAVs can save lives, protect our borders, and offer an eye in the sky viewpoint that helicopters simply can’t achieve. In an emergency response situation, when time is of the essence, or when a surveillance operation is taking place, drones and the innovative technology being developed are becoming essential in a first responder’s or police officer’s toolkit. This panel will discuss real-world scenarios and the technology behind implementation.

 

Cover Photo by Andrés Gerlotti on Unsplash

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