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The best Search and Rescue cameras on the market today – highlights and issues.

Search cameras are a critical part of an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) and Technical Rescue (TR) team’s operation. From vehicle extrication to confined space or structural collapse and water rescue - a search and rescue camera greatly enhances the effectiveness and safety of the search and rescue operation and bolsters the rescue outcome.

As a critically needed rescue item, ESSTECH undertook extensive investigations to source the best search and rescue camera available today, considering all attributes including cost for the end user.

While a few search and rescue cameras on the market had great attributes, ESSTECH was impressed by the affordability and operational flexibility of the FL360 by Firstlook.


  • Portability: The FL360 is lightweight and can be easily carried by a single rescuer, making it ideal for use in difficult-to-access areas.

  • High-Resolution Imaging: The FL360 is equipped with high-resolution imaging technology, which allows rescuers to see fine details in the search area, making it easier to locate missing persons or objects.

  • Remote Control: The FL360 can be controlled remotely, allowing rescuers to safely search an area from a distance, reducing the risk of injury or further collapse.

  • 360-Degree View: The FL360 can be extended up to 90 meters vertically with an extension cable to provide a 360-degree view of the surrounding area, allowing rescuers to survey large areas and locate missing persons or objects.

  • Built-in Microphone: The FL360 is equipped with a built-in microphone, which allows rescuers to communicate with trapped or injured victims.

  • Integration with other equipment: The FL360 can be integrated with other search and rescue equipment, such as listening devices and gas sensors, to enhance the effectiveness of search and rescue operations.

Product innovation for search and rescue cameras has been slow with many issues plaguing their effectiveness.

ESSTECH weighed the FL360 against common reasons why search and rescue cameras do not meet requirements to see how the camera fared:

ISSUE - Insufficient resolution or image quality.

THE FL360 - is equipped with imaging technology that allows rescuers to locate missing persons or objects in low-light or no-light conditions. Additionally, it has built in LED lights, the intensity of which can be controlled by the search technician.

ISSUE - Limited field of view and Limited range.

The FL360 - search and rescue camera is designed to have a wide field of view. The camera is mounted on a pole that can be extended up to 3 meters or vertically with an extension cable up to 90 meters which provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. This wide field of view allows rescuers to survey large areas and locate missing persons or objects quickly and efficiently. The camera is remotely controlled via an app, either on a phone or tablet controlled, allowing rescuers to move the camera and view live footage of the search area from a safe distance.

ISSUE - Limited battery life.

The FL360 is designed to be portable and easy to use and the battery life can vary between 3-4 hours of continuous use depending on factors such as video recording and geo location. The FL360 models battery packs, can be hot-swapped, allowing for uninterrupted search operations.

ISSUE: Inability to operate in low-light or no-light conditions.

The FL360 search and rescue camera works well in low-light conditions by utilizing the built-in led lights.

ISSUE: Interference or signal loss.

THE FL360 – Interference and signal loss can be a potential issue for any wireless device including the FL360 search and rescue camera. However, to minimize the risk of interference and signal loss, the FL360 can be used in conjunction with a wired connection.

ISSUE: Environmental factors.

The FL360 search and rescue camera is designed to be used in challenging environments, such as collapsed buildings, mines, and tunnels and is IP68 rated.

In conclusion, the FL360 is a cost effective, mobile integrated, compact, and multipurpose search and rescue camera that scores the highest in quality and affordability.

In the following emergency situations among others, ESSTECH believes the FL360 offers the most uncompromising value.

Vehicle extrication - The 360° spherical imaging allows the camera be placed in any space to view any angle.

Confined space - The FL360 operator can lower the search camera to monitor the victim by way of two-way communication and visuals including the actual rescue team. The FL360 features key spatial orientation features that allow the operator to see exactly where they’re looking within the space, which is important when choosing which equipment to use to extricate the victim.

Structural collapse - Older fixed camera heads (on a pole) that move from left to right using small mechanical gears with a small viewing screen take up a lot of time and cause spatial orientation difficulties. With the addition of 360° spherical imaging and the FL360 camera, spatial disorientation and speed of viewing is no longer an issue.

Water rescue - In the past USAR teams had to elevate themselves above a flood to shout for survivors in attics and other voids. Using a small core drill to cut into a roof and using a lightweight search camera like FL360 ensures no survivors are left behind.

At the time of writing the FL360 is scheduled to be on display at Intersec – Dubai World Trade Centre 17th – 19th January 2023 – STAND 4-G34 (British Pavilion) – but our tech loving rescue veterans are happy to give you a demonstration at any time:


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