New drone program to work with 911

Local News

BEDFORD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — An idea is coming to life. A drone program in Bedford is developing a solution to work with 911.

Most don’t know how much a drone is capable of.

President of Szanca Solutions and Eye in the Sky, Mark Szanca says you can do more with a drone than just take pictures.

“You can put different payloads on the drone, you can have heat detectors if there’s a missing person in the woods they can detect their thermal imagery, you can put payloads on there to detect chemicals being released,” Szanca said.

The goal is when a call comes in to 911 they can automatically release a drone from one of the towers in the county to send to the incident. This can help first responders have information to be prepared when they arrive on sight.

“It can save lives and can have some significant impact,” Szanca said.

Bedford County Sheriff, Wayne Emerick, said this will be a useful tool to help speed up their response time.

“We may be able to get that drone up and running very quickly and fly over an area,” Emerick said.

There is a variety of drones to help put this project together.

Director of Technical Solutions, Michael Knapp, said West Virginia University and Szanca Solutions are still in the process of developing an all-weather drone to give the best to emergency services.

“Most of the good camera drones will short out in bad weather and most of the all-weather drones do not have good cameras,” Knapp said.

As the drone technologies evolve, Szanca solutions are training drone pilots to get their commercial license through the Allegany College of Maryland campuses in Bedford, Cumberland, and somerset.

“There’s going to be more and more opportunity for work in servicing and operating drones whether it be transportation, emergency, or even the technology end of things,” Knapp said.

As it starts to become more popular, it is important to be aware of the FAA rules and regulations for operating a drone.

The drones are going to test fly this fall and through the winter, with expectations of having a prototype demonstration ready summer of 2021.

They hope to eventually expand this program county wide.

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