Dickinson County Emergency Management Raising Funds For New Drone

Thu 6-17-2021

(Spirit Lake)-- The Dickinson County Emergency Management Commission is raising funds to purchase a new drone. Coordinator Mike Ehret says the new one they're looking at has two cameras on it compared to the existing drone that only has one...Ehret & Drone01 

"One's just a regular visual camera and the other one is a thermal, or infrared camera. And since the new one has both of those on it, that means when we're in flight we can switch back and forth between those two cameras immediately or we can look at both views at the same time. That can be real handy when you're looking for somebody. You've got both those cameras right there. Currently with our current drone we just have one camera available, so you have to land, swap the cameras, and then take off again."

Ehret says the new one will also have longer flight times because of newer batteries. He adds the existing drone has proven itself and then some...Ehret & Drone02 

"We've used it for, you know, missing persons. We had success in Palo Alto county a couple of years ago finding a couple of fishermen that were stranded. And like I said we've used it for damage assessment after storms. You get a great view of what happened from up above."

Ehret says they're hoping to have the money raised for the new drone over the next couple of months...Ehret & Drone03 

"The new drone is just under $7,000, and so that kind of tells you how much the price has come down on some of these things. Our current drone including that thermal camera was upwards of $18,000 to $20,000 I believe a couple years ago with that thermal camera being the expensive piece there, so the price has come down on these. Another nice feature with this new one is it's a little more compact so it's easier to set up and we can get it up in the air a lot quicker than our current drone."

Ehret adds the current drone still works perfectly fine and that they plan to hold on to it...Ehret & Drone04 

"The current drone we have has the capability of carrying a payload, so if we need to carry something in and drop it in a particular location, we can do that. The new drone will not have that capability, so we're going to hang on to the old drone. As long as it wants to keep flying, we'll keep using it."

Anyone wanting to donate toward the new drone can contact Ehret at Dickinson County Emergency Management at 336-3987.