COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WFXG) - One piece of technology can help save lives, and it's right here in our community. Columbia County Fire Rescue has implemented a new drone to aid in missions.

It's considered an extra pair of eyes during emergencies. 

“Any type hazmat incident, major fire calls, wildwood fires, missing persons, we also support the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office with their drone response for missing persons as well.” said Brent Willis, Assistant Chief.

The $30,000 drone has several capabilities. One is simply the birds-eye view.

“It helps us with command and control of a scene. It helps us develop a kind of a game plan when we get started on an operation. We can kind of get the big picture and see what’s going on and help us develop our plan better.” said Willis.

This means a possible reduction of personnel needed on a mission.

“Especially on like hazmat operations, as soon as we get on scene, we can send it down range to gather information to help us develop our plan before we put crews actually in there. We can have a good game plan of what we’re going to do, what we need to do.” 

Another benefit - faster response times.

“Time is always of the essence in an emergency. With this, we have the searchlight capability that goes with it, we also have, it has a speaker, that we purchased with it, so if we need to do evacuations or whatever, we can do that from the air as well.”

The drone also features thermal imaging. The feature provides heat signatures which help locate missing people faster.

“We can get their GPS coordinates of exactly where they are and send search teams to them.”

When more life-saving technologies come available, Columbia County Fire Rescue says they’re all in.

“One of the things our department believes in, our fire chief, our county management, and with the support of board of commissioners, is we like having all the tools available to our personnel to keep them safe as well as keep our communities safer.”

Copyright 2022 WFXG. All rights reserved.