Killen Fire Department raising money for drone - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Killen Fire Department raising money for drone

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)
(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)
KILLEN, AL (WAFF) -

The Killen Fire Department hopes to use drones to help in future rescues. They're raising money to buy one after a drone recently helped a Birmingham fire department find four people.

The successful search and rescue video from the unmanned aerial system was posted to Facebook. It took the Vestavia Hills Fire Department less than 40 minutes to locate the four tubers on the Cahaba River on Monday.

"Nobody in our area, Lauderdale, Colbert County or north Alabama that we know of is utilizing the drone technology," said Killen firefighter Brandon Speth.

Last year, the Shoals department was dispatched to assist with 24 rescue calls. They believe this drone will help locate lost children and missing adults in wooded areas and water rescues faster.

"I mean you can cut this time in half and save somebody's life,” Speth said. “Somebody who's been out there for 20, 30 minutes that could have been found with a drone that we aren't going to find for three or four days with a boat could make all the difference in the world.”

A thermal imaging camera will be attached to the drone which can fly 400 feet in the air and cover three to five square miles.

"Instead of putting our personnel in harm’s way, we could put a piece of equipment in harm’s way which would make a lot of sense if you think about it,” Speth said. “It takes three or four men in the water efficiently, but with this drone, one man and a small SUV could get to the shore and put this drone over the water in a matter of minutes while we are getting everything else moving in that direction.”

The power to see through smoke and rough terrain, putting eyes in the air within minutes for a 10th of the price of a helicopter could make the difference between life and death.

"We'd like to have this as soon as possible, but I think if we can plan to have it in the next 12 months, that would be fantastic," Speth said.

The FLIR’s Aerial First Responder Kit costs $18,000, which also includes training. The drone can also carry an automated external defibrillator.

If you'd like to donate, click here.

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