The Great Bend Police Department along with the Great Bend Fire Department will have a new tool to add to their arsenal in the coming year: drones. The purchase of one unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is in the budget for 2019.
The technology has many uses for both departments, Fire Chief Luke McCormick said.
“We are excited to join forces with the GBPD when it comes to using these drones,” he said. “These drones and the technology that comes with them will help both departments in many ways.”
McCormick said the fire department will use the drone to help locate people within structures that are on fire and full of smoke, utilizing an infrared camera that attaches to it. UAVs can also be used to get aerial shots of brush fires and to locate obstacles that can keep vehicles from getting to a brush fire. The police can deploy drones for traffic control, accident scene investigations, and to help locate missing people, just to name a few possible uses.
“These drones have so many uses,” McCormick said. “This is a pretty significant tool to our toolbox. These drones can really help stop fires, find missing people. We can get information back in real time, which is very important.”
The topic of purchasing drones was brought up during a meeting between both departments and will be part of the 2019 GBPD budget. However, both departments will utilize the equipment. Employees in both departments will be trained on how to fly and operate UAVs.
According to McCormick, if the police department needs to use the drone, a trained pilot trained from the GBFD can be called to the scene — and vise versa. If the firefighters are busy with a fire scene, a UAV-trained police officer can operate the drone for the fire department.
The drone will be purchased in early 2019 and put into action after pilots have FAA licensing and all the proper training.