North Carolina's Spring Lake Fire Department uses UAS to rescue stranded kayakers

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The Spring Lake Fire Department in Spring Lake, North Carolina recently used its UAS to rescue stranded kayakers from the Little River.

Over multiple days, the department rescued seven people in two separate incidents. One rescue utilized a boat and took the department all morning to pull a family of five from the river. The other water rescue, though, utilized the department’s new UAS, and took just minutes.

“These drones can fly a lot faster than walking though woods and going down to the river in a boat so just making eye contact and putting a visual image on somebody is key to this,” says Drone Pilot Brandon Fitzhugh, via ABC 11.

While the department has only had the UAS for a few months, it is already looking into acquiring more technology.

“We're going to be able to drop PFD's, radios and anything they need, flashlights and with this one, we're going to start a thermal camera to do nighttime operations,” Fitzhugh says.

The extra gear will cost an additional $2,500, but the department believes the lives that can be saved using this technology is worth the cost.

“I can always put eyes on a target and find exactly where it is so somebody can get to them and try to make the save because what's at stake? Life..Life is always at stake,” Fitzhugh says.

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