Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service gets an eye in the sky with launch of drone program

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is taking to the skies.

Drone will give first responders new perspective during emergency situations, fire paramedic service says

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service will start using a drone to help during emergency situations in June. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is taking to the skies.

In June, the WFPS will launch its unmanned aerial vehicle program, which will see a drone equipped with a thermal imaging camera used to help emergency crews respond to a variety of different emergency situations.

"With the drone's help, fire crews will have a better understanding of the emergency situation and any potential dangers," said Scott Wilkinson, senior academy officer with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, in a news release.

"With a more targeted response, the drone will also help reduce damage and improve operational efficiencies."

Earlier this week, the Winnipeg Police Service said it had used thermal imaging cameras on its police helicopter in nine fires in the first eight days of May to direct crews to fires and previously unknown hot spots on the ground.

The WFPS drone will be used to locate people and hot spots and help to find potential structural issues while crews battle fires. It will allow incident commanders on scene to see what the drone is seeing in real-time, according to the city's release.

In addition to helping during structure fires, the city says the technology can also be used for water rescues and hazardous materials response, as well as wildland fire monitoring and post-incident analysis and investigation.

The program's roughly $44,000 price tag will be covered through funding from the city's innovation capital fund.

"This program is just one more way the City of Winnipeg is using technology to improve the quality of life for people living and working here," said Coun. Cindy Gilroy, chair of the city's standing policy committee on innovation.

"This technology will assist our first responders to provide essential services to residents."

The drone will be ready to fly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be flown in weather as cold as –20 C and wind speeds up to 40 km/h.

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