DJI Phantom 3 drone release
They're not all bad - DJI Phantom 3 drones have been used this week to aid law enforcement and emergency responders in the US (IBTimes UK)

Amid the debate about consumer drones needing better regulations as civilians are starting to hit each other (and themselves) on the head with them, it needs to be remembered that there is a lot of good that can be done with the technology.

There are two examples where DJI Phantom 3 drones have been used to aid US law enforcement and critical emergency responders in doing their jobs.

Drone delivered emergency equipment

Three fire department crews were sent to rescue two boys who were stranded when their water raft got stuck on a rock in the middle of rapids in the Little Androscoggin River in Mechanic Falls, Maine on Tuesday 30 June.

An 18-year-old man and a 12-year-old boy were stuck in the middle of the river but only the boy was wearing a life jacket. The Auburn fire department used a DJI Phantom 3 drone to fly a life jacket on a haul line out to the man, who untied it from the drone and put it on.

Later, they were rescued by firefighters in an inflatable rescue boat and the drone was able to capture video footage of the entire rescue.

"I think we've only begun to scratch the surface for what their full capabilities can be in the emergencies field," Auburn fire chief Frank Roma told local TV station WMTV8. "I was able to see exactly what the drone was seeing. I was able to direct it to where it needed to be."

Drone helped to catch robbery suspect

On 31 May, police in Middleton, Wisconsin, were chasing a man who allegedly stole a vehicle from a car park and then robbed a petrol station.

The man, Marquis M Phiffer, 21, fled from police in a 70mph car chase, and eventually abandoned the vehicle after reportedly crashing into a parked car, before running into a marsh area to hide, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

The Middleton Fire Department offered the police an inflatable raft, together with a DJI Phantom 3 drone, so they could go after him.

The police report states that when the officers finally caught up with Phiffer, his shoes were reportedly floating away from him and a large amount of cash was in the water.

Of course, better regulations are still needed to make sure civilian drones do not endanger people's lives, particularly to make sure they do not collide with commercial aircraft, but in the right hands, the technology could have many useful applications.