WARRENSBURG — Johnson County has new high-tech aids buzzing around in the sky to help area law enforcement, fire, rescue and other organizations during disaster or special event situations. It’s not a bird, a plane or even a little green man in a spaceship; it’s a small Unmanned Aircraft System, also known to most as a “Drone.”
“We have two drones which can be deployed to an area for variety of incidents and or events,” Emergency Management Director Troy Armstrong said.
Armstrong explained the drones were funded 100% via unique partnerships with the Warrensburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, Stahls Specialty Company and the Johnson County Local Emergency Planning Committee.
“Our agencies provide support during large events such as the Burg Fest, Get the Red Out as well as others,” Armstrong said. “We knew the drones could be utilized to obtain some great overhead footage of those events which could assist local law enforcement with security, while at the same time provide video footage that would be beneficial to our community for marketing.”
Armstrong stated EMA reached out to Marcy Bryant, director of the Warrensburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit Warrensburg, to pitch the idea of her agency teaming with EMA.
The partnership allowed Emergency Management to fully fund one of the drones.
A “Statement of Work” agreement was drafted and agreed upon between EMA and the Visitor’s Bureau which outlines the parameters of the partnership.
“This collaboration with our community partner Johnson County Emergency Management will provide the WCVB professional quality event footage,” Bryant said. “The dynamic imagery captured by the drone will allow the WCVB to present Warrensburg’s story, attracting and engaging those looking for a travel destination.”
A second drone, equipped with a normal and a thermal camera, was purchased with funds donated by Stahl Specialty Company and contributions from the Johnson County Local Emergency Planning Committee.
Since the second Drone is geared towards hazardous materials response, it allowed the LEPC to contribute funds toward the purchase.
Local Emergency Planning Committees are community-based organizations that assist in preparing for emergencies, particularly those concerning hazardous materials.
The Johnson County LEPC is comprised of representatives from various public safety agencies, the members of the general public and private sector as well.
Having this drone available to the LEPC and the EMA will allow personnel to fly it into a possibly contaminated or dangerous area to assess the situation prior to actually sending first responder into it.
Armstrong stated keeping preparedness in mind, EMA offered to host a Community Emergency Response Team simulated disaster drill and provide drone footage of the Stahl Specialty Company location.
In return, Stahl assisted with the funding for this project.
The donated funds not only made the purchase of both drones possible, it allowed the purchase of additional batteries which will provide longer flight times. The funding also provides personnel from the numerous public service agencies the resources necessary to obtain the required Part 107 Remote Pilot’s license.
Armstrong reports that these assets will be available to any public safety agency within Johnson County and if needed elsewhere, and when they are not currently in use locally, they could be deployed anywhere in the state if needed.
The Johnson County Multi-Agency Unmanned Aircraft System Response Team consists of representatives from Johnson County Emergency Management, Warrensburg Fire Department and the Johnson County MO Sheriff’s Office.
Johnson County Sheriff Munsterman said he is thankful to those generous companies and organizations that have made the purchase of the drones possible.
The drones will provide law enforcement a view of an event or activity which could not otherwise be obtained. It will allow an agency a bird’s eye view of vehicle and pedestrian flow and movement and possibly eliminate a possible problem before it happens.