UAS keeping citizens safe in Hampton, Virginia

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Hampton, Virginia’s police and fire departments are utilizing UAS to keep citizens safe.

The city has a Joint Police/Fire Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Unit, consisting of six firefighters and six police officers. All members of the unit are cross-trained, meaning that police officers can do what the firefighters are trained to do and vice versa.

​The joint unit can use its UAS for a variety of tasks, including but not limited to, fighting fires, post-disaster assessments, and locating high-risk suspects on the run.

“Let’s say I have a suspect heavily armed lying out here. A felon out there. We have canines that can go out there and locate, officers can put out a screen and try and find him,” explains Sgt. Mark Kincaid, the Commander of the Joint Police/Fire Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Unit, via WTKR.com.

“But if the suspect is in a contained location, we can come out here, put an aircraft over the area, locate the suspect and get an exact location of him and be able to see is he armed? Is he not armed? What is he wearing? What is his condition? Is he hurt; not hurt? This is important information to develop tactics to move forward.”

Thanks to having a special FLIR camera that shows thermal imaging, the fire department has an upper hand when battling fires. Using the FLIR camera, the incident commander can look for hotspots in a building and guide firefighters to enter from a less dangerous part of the structure.

“He can see, okay it's safe to do it or it's not safe to do it,” Sgt. Kincaid adds.

Ultimately, the unit, which has a few different UAS, believes that drones are cost-effective, and can accomplish missions “just as well.”

“Being able to use this technology to provide not only security and safety for our citizens but for our firefighters and police officers to give them that edge,” Sgt. Kincaid concludes.

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