In the fall of 2016, the Emergency Management Commission and Coordinator began researching the purchase of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), commonly known as a drone. Following a demonstration by Aerial Horizons, the Commission approved the purchase, sharing the cost with the Dickinson County Sheriff's Office. DCEM took possession of a DJI Inspire I drone in February of 2017. The Coordinator completed training and became a certified UAS pilot through the FAA. Additionally, DCEM holds a Part 107 waiver from the FAA, allowing for nighttime operations.
In April of 2017, the Commission approved the purchase of a thermal imaging camera for the drone. This camera allows us to see heat and gives us the ability to conduct searches at night. The thermal camera, a $12,000 investment, could not have been purchased without the help of several organizations in Dickinson County. To date, they include:
- East Okoboji Lakes Improvement Corporation ($1,000)
- City of West Okoboji ($1,000)
- City of Arnolds Park ($1,000)
- City of Orleans ($1,000)
- Iowa Communities Assurance Pool (ICAP) through MHR Insurance, Russ Beckendorf, Agent ($1,000)
- Spirit Lake Protective Association ($1,000)
- Royal Neighbors of America - Lake Park Chapter #3922 ($300)
The Dickinson County Emergency Management Commission would like to thank these organizations for their generous donations. If your organization would like to contribute, please contact the emergency management office at 712-336-3987.
The uses for the drone are numerous and include searching for missing persons, communications equipment inspections, damage surveys and assessments, aerial surveillance for emergency situations, and more. Additionally, the drone is equipped with the Stork payload drop system. This allows us to carry light-weight objects, such as a water bottle, cell phone, life jacket, etc., to someone in need and then drop the object to them from the air.
Damage survey following a tornado in Osceola County - August 2017
Viewing deer with the thermal camera during training