Eyes in the Sky

The CEO of Skyview Aerial Solutions, Tom Fernandez, gingerly caressed the contents of the box, softly uttered a brief goodbye then turned to the man best known for being Berkeley County’s coroner.

“She’s all yours now,” Fernandez said.

Bill Salisbury smiled. “We’re so excited to have her.”

Flanked by an audience Wednesday that included members of the Berkeley County Rescue Squad –where Salisbury also serves as chief – Fernandez was referring to DJl Phantom, the drone donated by the company to the Berkeley County Rescue Squad will also benefit the Berkeley County Sheriff’s office.

“The rescue squad and the sheriff’s office work together searching for missing people and this drone will benefit both organizations,” Salisbury said. “Any time the sheriff’s office needs it, it will be there for them to use.”

Sheriff Duane Lewis graciously accepted the opportunity to have access to the drone, and the opportunity to partner with Skyview which will enable and facilitate the two departments to work closer together.

“We will be using the drone in conjunction with search and rescue situations, missing children, vulnerable adults who may have wandered away from their homes,” Lewis said. “We’re just excited about being able to offer this service to the people of Berkeley County and we can’t thank you all enough.”

Lewis noted there are many areas in Berkeley County that are “tough” in terms of terrain and expressed thanks that, along with other modes of search and rescue used, the drone will be an added complement to the technology that is already in place. Lewis noted having access to the drone will allow rescuers and responders first looks at those areas not immediately or easily accessible by helicopters or humans when weather creates poor conditions that are un safe for humans.

In addition to donating the equipment, Skyview will also donate their time to training ensuring the departments will know how to properly operate the drone along with providing assistance for registering it with the FAA. A decal sporting the rescue squad’s name/logo has been ordered and will be placed on the drone along with the aircraft’s registration numbers.

The drone will be in full compliance with FAA regulations which require the tail numbers like regular aircraft.

“These first responders, these men and women give up their time, their talent and sometimes, they give up their lives,” Fernandez said. “And we owe them our thanks and our gratitude.”

Fernandez explained the company’s decision to donate the drone was due to the exemplary and “selfless service” shown by the departments. “They deserve the best equipment available,” Fernandez said.

The DJl was used in 2015 to help locate debris and evidence after an F16 and Cessna collided in Berkeley County, killing two.

It has clocked “hundreds and hundreds of hours,” Fernandez said. “This drone is my personal favorite.”

The DJl Phantom is permitted to go up to 400 feet in the air per FAA regulations.

Source: http://www.berkeleyind.com/article/20160225/BI01/160229856/1071/BI

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