Triad fire department training to use drone for more successful rescues

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LEWISVILLE, N.C. — Technology is transforming the way rescue crews do their job and is leading to more lives saved.

Many of us may think of drones as a popular gift or a way to take your photography skills to new heights.

But now a Triad fire department has jumped in on the trend.

The Lewisville Fire Department has spent the last few months training to use its drone with seven firefighters now FAA certified.

“Learning to fly, as well as learning the software, the thermal signatures that we want to try to understand how to read, how to identify people and fire hot spots are all things that we are still trying to learn how to do,” Assistant Chief David Kivett said.

The drone was purchased in September to help crews find people faster and lead to more successful rescues.

“We get called out two or three times a year from people that are late along the Yadkin River. The river is so low that we can’t put the boats in and travel up and down very easily,” Kivett said.

Kivett says drone technology lets firefighters explore difficult landscapes without putting people in danger. The camera on the drone maps out its flight path and shows exact locations. Firefighters not on scene can also see the flight path back at the station.

“It will cut down on time, cut down on manpower and provide some useful information that we typically aren’t able to gather,” Kivett said.

With these drones, first responders can see up to 14 miles away.

From above station 13, the drone can zoom in and clearly see the Winston-Salem skyline.

Kivett says drone technology is becoming the standard for first responders.

“There’s going to be one or two in every county and it’s definitely going to help out,” Kivett said.

The department expects to start using the drone in rescues as soon as the new year.

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