Surveying the fires is generally done from high altitude fixed wing aircraft unless it's a small fire and one or two helos with buckets spotting and dumping on their own. Your post indicates that you don't know what the firefighting aircraft are doing-- most of them are not scouting the fire or looking for trapped people, they're carrying 500-1000 gallons (or more for the skycranes and fixed wings) of water and fire retardant and doing precision drops. I've watched a pumper truck park near my house with an inflatable pool and supply two helos with water to knock out a ~5 acre fire on a steep mountainside that would have taken hours to get handcrews to, and been impossible to get a truck to. They completely knocked out the fire with no people on the ground within a mile of it.
As for scouting for people - if you're in a wildland fire and aren't by a road, you're pretty much SOL. The best they'd be able to do is drop water on you (which they'd do) if they see you at all, but you're not getting picked up til it burns past unless you're well away from the fire. They get people out by filling the neighborhood with fire equipment and telling people to leave. The drones in the air don't stop the firefighters on the ground, but they do stop the air support they depend on. There are 28 helos and probably a half-dozen fixed wing aircraft assigned to the Sand fire right now - they do water and fire retardant drops to support the ground crews, especially in areas that are difficult or dangerous for the hand crews to get to, and might have restricted escape routes.