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Huntsville first responders explain the importance of drones


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) – As potential storms head toward North Alabama for Wednesday and Thursday, first responders are looking at unique ways to keep both crews and citizens safe.

Huntsville fire district chiefs met on Tuesday to discuss the capabilities of how drones can help in the case of major damage.

Huntsville Fire Deputy Chief Wes Ogle said drones can help fire services efficiently deploy a limited amount of resources.

“We’ve only got so many fire trucks and things to respond in a disaster situation,” said Deputy Ogle, “It helps us to be more efficient and to make sure we get the right resources to the people who need it most.”

Each drone is equipped with video recording capabilities to help crews safely assess damage from afar. Each unit is also equipped with a thermal vision sight to help to spot flames at night or people trapped inside a burning building.

On January 6th, thermal vision helped fire crews pinpoint flames atop Green Mountain.

Huntsville Police Department also has its own drone unit that’s been deployed over 5,000 times since 2018. Sergeant Joseph Debore says their drone has helped with foot chases, burglaries, and even finding missing seniors.

“We established this unit to help with several different aspects of police work,” said sergeant Debore, “The main focus being keeping our officers safe on scenes and helping the citizens out of Huntsville.”

A Huntsville Police drone aided Owens Cross Roads Police last month find a suspect hiding on a roof.

Deputy chief Ogle said pilots are now working to pin problem areas from a drone and then relay that information to crews on the ground.

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