Emergency crews see drones as a valuable resource that will help save lives.
The aerial view, for example, would aid a search-and-rescue mission with crews finding victims faster than from the ground, Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.
"To look at the type of collapse, to look at conditions of roads where we can bring people in -- these are central things we can do," Schapelhouman said.
But in order for drones to be effective and safe, Schapelhouman said pilots must be part of the rescue team and aware of helicopter operations.
"Working around big pieces of equipment like that and having a drone strike concerns me," he said.
The Menlo Park Fire Protection District has a drone, but is not allowed to use it on a fire or rescue response until the Federal Aviation Administration grants permission.
The district, which is pursuing permission from the FAA to use a drone, hopes to make the device part of standard operations on fire and search-and-rescue calls.
Rescue and fire crews are not the only ones looking for the birds eye view drones provide.
USGS Seismologist Walter Mooney said the pictures from above can help scientists identify dangerous conditions created by an earthquake, including where aftershocks might occur.
"Having info from drones about subsidiary faults -- faults that are likely to move in an aftershock could save lives because that would be the zone likely to move in an aftershock," Mooney said.