AUSTIN – Texas game wardens are adding a new set of eyes in the sky — an Unmanned Aircraft System or UAS — they say will enhance their ability to quickly and safely survey hard to access areas during natural disasters and search and rescue operations.
The new drone, a DJI Inspire 2, was donated through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s Gear Up for Game Wardens program, which has generated over $100,000 in private donations thus far to fund purchases of specialized equipment for state game wardens.
“It will definitely be deployed during disaster events and search operations,” said Game Warden Pilot Lt. Brandon Rose. “We’re limited from using our helicopter and airplane if weather is bad. With this drone we may be able to search for missing persons in situations where we can’t use the manned aircraft. During those down times, this craft could be the difference maker in getting help and saving lives.”
The new game warden UAS can attain a maximum speed of 58 mph and can go from 0 to 50 in 5 seconds with a range of about 4 miles.
The unit’s camera payload allows for real-time broadcast, which provides the same live HD video feed to a large HD TV screen or monitor. This feature can give rescuers and command staff a live view enabling them to make immediate and appropriate decisions that save lives.
The craft has a distinctive custom paint job and vinyl wrap similar to that on the Texas game warden helicopter, and is easily identifiable by markings on the unit’s arms that read: “Game Warden Search and Rescue.”
“This much-anticipated piece of equipment comes in the wake of the Wimberly floods, and after wardens affected 12,000 rescues and evacuations during Hurricane Harvey,” offered Waco-based Game Warden Capt. Jason Campbell. “Many of the rescues in both of these events were highly technical and presented an above average danger to the victims and wardens involved. The UAS will equip our warden first responders with the ability to identify dangers such as swift water, downed powerlines, and hazardous materials. Identifying these threats allows for greater safety of victims as well as wardens.”
Campbell went on to add, “The UAS will enhance….
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