Virginia Rescue Group Preps to Bring in Drones

Having completed 40 hours of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) ground school at a local college, the Danville Life Saving Crew (DLSC) in Danville, Va., is getting ready to deploy drones to help with search-and-rescue (SAR) operations.

According to a release from the DLSC, five members from the SAR group attended courses at Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC), where they were prepped for their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Remote Pilot Certificate exam. The students will take a written exam within 90 days to receive their FAA certification.

The PVCC course was taught by Darren Goodbar, assistant professor at PVCC and UAS coordinator of response programs for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

On Friday, July 28, students participated in the field portion of the UAS flight training. The five DLSC members, alongside Pittsylvania County Sheriff Mike Taylor and five members of his sheriff’s office, showcased their flight skills at Dan Daniel Memorial Park.

“We’re really excited. These small unmanned aircraft systems are amazing pieces of technology that will offer us information at emergency scene size-ups that will assist us in deploying our personnel and equipment in a safe and timely manner,” says Scott Campbell, DLSC’s special operations captain. “We’ve been researching and planning for our UAS program for over three years. In the past, we’ve had to rely on helicopters or fixed-wings from other agencies to assist us in our search-and-rescue missions.”

DLSC’s assistant director, Bryan Fox, adds, “We are committed to investing in the most up-to-date equipment and training to serve Danville and Pittsylvania County. These small unmanned aerial systems will be utilized during search-and-rescue missions, such as our Swift Water and Dive Team responses. They will also be available for mutual aid request by nearby agencies and state responses.”


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