ROANOKE, Va.- – It doesn't help put out fires but a new piece of equipment is helping Roanoke County Fire and Rescue do their job of saving lives.
"It's a Mavic 2 Enterprise. It has a combination of both visual and infrared camera on it, which allows us to see red in addition to the normal visual spectrum," said Lt. Christopher Lacy, a paramedic with Roanoke County Fire and Rescue.
The drone joins two others that were purchased last year. The aerial footage provided by the new unmanned aircraft is proof this one is significantly different.
"The thermal imaging helps us considerably! It also has mission planning on it, which allows us to preprogram a fight flight path forward to go on. So it can fly hands-free without our assistance," said Lacy.
Lacy is one of the seven pilots qualified to fly the drones. "It's exciting. It's like being able to fly an aircraft although you're still on the ground," said Lacy.
Whether it's scouting brush fires or searching for missing people, Lacy says investing in this drone helps to keep resources local.
"It's significantly more expensive to fly a than using the drone, Lacy said. "It can also be deployed a lot quicker than usually than a helicopter can," he said.
The new drone was purchased just a few months ago for $4,600.