In Roanoke County, Virginia, the fire department has started testing with the use of drones to deliver supplies to crews and victims in emergency situations.
Since launching its drone program in 2018, the use of unmanned aircraft has grown more and more valuable for Roanoke County Fire and Rescue.
During a recent fire at the pebble Creek Apartments, the fire department used a drone to document the damage and look for hotspots and places that the fire has spread to.
“Most of the time it provides us an aerial surveillance capability where we can have aerial imagery of the situation that’s going on,” Lieutenant Sean Lacy said, according to 10News.
So far the drones have been mostly used for observational purposes however that may soon be changing. Roanoke County is now testing its drones to deliver supplies to crews and victims in emergency situations. Payloads weighing up to 1 pound can be dropped with a parachute from the drone.
“[We’re] going to be using that as a delivery capability so that we can deliver supplies to crews that are out in the field or to victims with supplies that they may need in an emergency,” Lacy said.
For instance, a drone could be used to fly medication or a radio to a victim in hard-to-reach terrain. The unmanned aircraft can also be used to help bring a rope across a gorge or waterway.
Using aftermarket parts that were initially intended for drone fishing purposes are used to help drop supplies to people in need.
Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Community Outreach Coordinator Brian Clingenpeel said, “I think that’s what we’re starting to see now with this new technology in all areas, collaborating and figuring out different ways to use it that other people haven’t thought of.”
Roanoke County is one of the first in the region to use drones in this way.
“Just giving it a try, seeing what it’s capable of, what it’s not and it’s still very much an experiment it’s not operational as of yet, but we hope it will be in the future,” Lacy said.
The drone operators working for the county are certified Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 107 pilots and keep their drones within line-of-sight (LOS).
You can read more stories in which drones are being used for a good here.
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Photo credit: Shayne Dwyer, 10News