Local police and fire departments get an eye in the sky

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Local police and fire departments practiced their skills Friday by using a little bit of technology.

Helmuth said about 20 people are trained to fly the drones.

With the help of drones, they worked on being able to get a bird's eye view of a scene.

Paul Helmuth, the administrative officer for Harrisonburg Fire and Rescue, said the ability to use drones is an advantage.

"A tool that we haven't had in the past, that it's giving us this information, it's great," Helmuth said.

Once a month, members of local police and fire departments brush up on their drone flying.

Harrisonburg and Rockingham County police and fire departments have had drones for about two years.

The drones can help departments out in a variety of ways, from simply getting a better look at a train crash to using heat sensing technology for a search and rescue at night.

Helmuth said the technology is groundbreaking.

"I've been in emergency services for almost 30 years," Helmuth said. "To see how a community the size of Harrisonburg is able to take a technology like this and be able to do the things that we thought we'd never be able to do in the last 30 years is amazing."

Harrisonburg is looking at getting a water-resistant drone. Helmuth said drone technology is moving so fast, it is difficult to tell what the future could bring..

"Five or so years out, no one is going to be able to know," Helmuth said. "The technology is just moving too rapidly."