MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Editorials

June 7, 2014

Drones could be valuable tools

Muskogee County commissioners should consider purchasing an unmanned aerial system to help firefighters and other emergency responders.

Garvin County’s recent purchase of a drone is thought to be the first purchase of a drone by a public agency in the state other than a university.

The cost of the drone is minimal — $2,300 — but drones have the potential to save lives and property.

Drones can reach sites faster than emergency vehicles because they can fly in a straight line. And trained observers can use the drone’s camera to assess a situation.

A trained firefighter could assess the need for additional resources without having to wait for truckloads of firefighters to arrive at a structure fire.

The use of the drone in that case might protect property because more firefighters and equipment could be dispatched earlier.

It will save money in those cases when a trained observer can relay to dispatchers that the fire does not require multiple units.

Drones can save lives.

They can be sent to assess a situation before firefighters are forced to blindly charge a wildfire.

Drones can be used to help search for missing children.

Drones can be sent to determine the extent of a vehicle accident. It can be determined earlier if additional rescue equipment is needed.

Police possibly could use the drones in a manhunt — in the case of an escaped prisoner or a suspect fleeing an armed robbery, for example.

Drones should not be used to look for possible criminal activity. They should be used only to find suspects in an emergency situation.

Law enforcement should be required to get a search warrant before using the drone in any other way. That would protect citizens’ rights.

It can’t be determined how vital a drone could be without actually having one in use.

But, for $2,300, it would be well worth it to buy one and see how valuable they really can become.

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