drone certificationCounty acquires OEM drone | Top Story

October 20, 2021by helo-10

BATAVIA — The Genesee County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has a drone that it plans to deploy to assist in a variety of situations.

OEM Coordinator Tim Yaeger talked, during the Public Service Committee meeting Monday, about the purchase of the county’s second drone. He noted the county Health Department has one already.

“From a public safety aspect, we just took delivery of our first drone today (Monday). What type of drone you can purchase and all the policies and procedures were set by New York state,” he said. “It took us about a year and a half to get those guidances and policies and procedures in place. We’re going to be getting that ready to be deployable. We do have one pilot now.”

Yaeger Tuesday said Deputy Fire Coordinator Dan Coffey is that pilot. More pilots will be undergoing training and certification, Yaeger said.

The drone is a Autel EVO II, Yaeger said. It will be used for hazmat situations, structure fires, search and rescue, fire investigations and damage assessments.

“We just purchased that with Homeland Security money. It has, obviously, video and still photography capability. It has infrared capability,” Yaeger said. “We will be using that for surveys of damage, say from a storm or a fire. We can use it for lost people searches. It will look at a thermal signature of a human. We’re going to use that technology for that as well,”

Yaeger also talked during the meeting about devices law enforcement can purchase that will track drone travel. There was discussion of this technology at a National Homeland Security Conference in Las Vegas, Nev. he attended in July.

“It will actually track the operator of the drone, the type of drone, where exactly the operator is standing,” he said of the technology.

The Denver Broncos of the National Football League and the NFL began purchasing this technology after it showed that there was drone traffic over the top of the stadium.

Locally, the technology to track drone travel is something the county should look at, especially regarding large-gathering facilities and critical infrastructure facilities.

“Darien Lake comes to mind, but any place where you’re having large gatherings or different places where you don’t want those types of drones,” he said.

The OEM coordinator gave an example of a tactic drone operators have used over prisons.

“They’ve been using drones now to drop basketballs. It carries a basketball with things that aren’t supposed to be in a prison,” he said. “It’ll fly over the top of the fence. It’ll drop the basketball. The basketball bounces. They just think it was some recreational equipment that was left out by someone.”

After leaving the committee meeting, Yaeger said the concern is about the public that flies drones where they’re not supposed to do so.

“There may be restricted airspace and also you’re not supposed to be flying drones over people, like in an NFL stadium,” he said. ”That (the security conference) was the education for us to understand the defense mechanisms, the defense technology that’s out there, that law enforcement can now track those drones. If there is a drone flying that’s not supposed to be in a certain area, we can find out who that drone operator is and make sure that issue is addressed with them.”

This tracking technology is something that you have to purchase, Yaeger said.

“We’ll be doing more research on the technology, the need for the technology … and the cost of the technology,” he said.

Drones flying over large gatherings could potentially cause harm by crashing, so the goal is to make sure everyone’s safe, he said.

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There is more to being a drone pilot than just buying a machine and flying in your backyard. It can be that simple, but most of us will need to understand some drone laws before we try to take to the sky.


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