The Burnett County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Tracy Finch outlined some recent successes of our drone program.
According to the sheriff, the BCSO started their drone program with research, and fundraising by the Burnett County Citizen’s Auxiliary, beginning approximately a year ago. “During those initial phases we never dreamed of being where we are today,” Sheriff Finch stated. “During COVID-19 the fundraising was difficult.”
Bu the BCSO received some substantial donations from Yellow Lakes and River Association, Michael Maloney, Squirrels Unlimited, Wayne’s Foods, Burnett County Whitetails Unlimited, KJs Fresh Market, Bruce Branstad, Wild Bill’s Sporting Goods, Stan and Betty Peer and many others who purchased their ‘We Support Law Enforcement’ signs.
This past March, Frandsen Bank got the BCSO over the threshold, with the donation of a drone from Maverick Drones.
“We held a demonstration that day for the public at the Burnett County Government Center,” Finch noted. “Since that day we have been training and getting all proper certifications.”
The other funds collected have been and will continue to be used for accessories and equipment for the drone.
“Fast-forward to June of 2021. Our program is up and running with several operators available,” Finch said. “Two call-outs came on June 13th for two different missing individuals. Dep. Patrick Carlson began operating the drone from the afternoon of the 13th through to the morning of the 14th. The second individual was located down an embankment that had been looked through several times prior. Deputy Carlson skillfully operated the drone using its heat sensing technology to locate the individual and get proper emergency medical services to his aid.”
That drone operation was notable, and the sheriff was frank in the success.
“If Dep. Carlson had not been diligently operating the drone, it is likely that individual may have died of exposure,” Finch added.
Sheriff Finch also pointed out a recent success, several days later:
“One week later, Grantsburg Police Officer Joel Klatt was called from home to assist with a search for an individual who was in the woods and had a major medical condition,” Finch said. “Officer Klatt also used the technology of the drone to locate that individual who was mere feet from where Deputies had looked. The individual was breathing, but unresponsive. Emergency medical services were transported to this remote location to provide care.”
Like the earlier success, the sheriff was adamant about the ability of using the drone to find someone who might not have survived much longer.
“This individual was also likely to die due to medical conditions if it were not for the expert operation of the drone by Officer Klatt,” Finch stated. “We believe this drone and its program are responsible for saving two lives in one week.”
The BCSO and other agencies have used the drone several times now, and the operation continues to be a huge success, with other highlights including wildfire monitoring.
“We would like to put out a HUGE THANK YOU to all of our supporters, donors and operators! Without these people we would not have had these recent successes,” Finch added. “Of course we would also like to put out a special thanks to all of our local volunteer fire departments, ambulance personnel, first responders and citizens who helped these people to safety.”