After Action Review - Texas Mem. Day Floods 2015

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The link below is to a white paper After Action Review co-authored and written by Coitt Kessler, Program Manager, Austin Fire Department Robotic Emergency Deployment (RED) Team, and Gene Robinson, the Chief Pilot for the Wimberley, TX, Fire Department. The event was the flooding associated with the Blanco River in S. Central Texas just about 30-40 mile South of Austin Texas on May 23rd-24th, 2015. The Blanco rose at a rate of 17.5 feet in 1/2 hour and at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, the stage was 32.4 ft., flood stage is 13 ft. The river level crested at 43 feet early Sunday morning, flowing at a rate of 223,000 cubic feet per second — 2.5 times the flow of Niagra Falls.

The white paper details the efforts of all participants in the SAR missions including the many hobbyist drone pilots (pre-part 107 days). There are details included about the dangers of self initiated drone flights and their interaction with the many Coast Guard and private fleet of heli-copters all flying low altitude SAR sorties. It becomes evident that one of the biggest issues is that the coordinated efforts of the SAR professionals was with not being able to communicate and coordinate flight activities with the drone privateers.

There is ample information contained for anyone who chooses to offer their free services in coordination with the local authorities during disasters and or more typical SAR missions. It is a noble calling to assist in SAR functions, but more than just a willingness to help, it is necessary to become an asset to the mission so as not to endanger others. The only way to safely integrate yourself into this activity is through training and taking the time to meet your local SAR professionals prior to these events. This will help you know who you will be working with and how they operate as well as them getting to know you, your equipment and capabilities.   

Coitt Kessler -

Gene Robinson -

The White Paper -

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