West Memphis Fire Department receives drone to help with emergencies

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - West Memphis Fire Department just got its first drone. It'll give first responders a bird's eye view and help them better respond to emergencies.

When toxic sodium cyanide spilled onto Interstate 40 in January, shutting down the interstate for hours, Lt. Fred Thorne knew it was time for the department to invest in equipment that would give firefighters a view from above.

"It took an hour for us to get suited up and make entry into the scene. Where, with this device, we could have had it in the air over the product within three to five minutes," Thorne said.

It's a device that will soon save man power and time in a job where every second counts.

"By putting this equipment in the place of a firefighter it keeps the hazard to us down," Thorne said.

It's a tool first responders across the country are beginning to use.

West Memphis Fire Department's Phantom Four Pro drone is still several weeks away from making its official maiden flight. WMFD is still waiting on the approval from the FAA before the drone will be allowed to assist the department in situations like search and rescue missions, large fires, and hazardous material situations.

"Any tool that we can use to help do our job, everybody here is onboard," Thorne said.

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