New drone could help save lives in York County

WEST MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- A new tool is helping a York County fire department go to new heights to help people.

West Manchester Township firefighters are taking their service to the sky and training to fly a drone during emergency situations

"It's a new tool we got to help us with various type of incidents. Lots we come into contact with here in the township," said Clifton Laughman, who serves as chief of West Manchester Township Fire Department.

Whether someone is lost in the woods, stranded in a quarry, or their house is on fire, now first responders have a birds eye, thermal view of the scene.

"What that means is we can see heat sources, so when if we're sent for a search and rescue we can send it up, fly it all over, and we can pick up heat sources from the ground," explained Laughman.

The equipment is named Drone 50 after its station, and it's also a new communication tool.

First responders are now able to talk through the drone and tell people, whether trapped, lost, or injured, "hang on, help is on the way."

"I think it's very important because reassuring someone help is on the way - depending on the situation, it can take a while to get things rigged up or get ourselves situated, so this can be up in a matter of a minute or so," added Laughman.

When lives are on the line, first responders say those minutes matter.

"Same thing - trying to find somebody. It can really cut down because you get such a wide view, shrink down on that period trying to find somebody," said Laughman.

The drone would've set the department back $3,500, but the chief says an anonymous business donated the money.

"Technology continues to evolve and this is something we never really dreamed of so when we had an anonymous business donate the money for us to purchase this, we were very grateful to have that technology," said Laughman.

Laughman said he hopes to have Drone 50 officially in service by May 1st.

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