PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Sometimes, work actually can be fun. Just ask Anthony Johnson.
“What guy doesn’t like playing with something that flies in the air, especially if it has a remote control,” he said. “And the stuff you can do with this thing and be able to see, it’s just crazy.”
Johnson, district chief with the Jackson County Office of Emergency Services, added that drone technology means more than just boys with their toys.
“Today, we use it for so much that we find ourselves asking all the time, how did we do it before we ever had drones,” Johnson said. “It’s amazing that the manpower that it saves, the hours. It makes our job so much easier and so much more thorough.”
Right now, drone imagery has to be downloaded from the aircraft after the mission.
That will soon change.
In about a month, the Jackson County Office of Emergency Services is about to introduce live streaming with those drones.
Jackson County Emergency Management Director Earl Etheridge showed an example of what’s to come.
“What you’re seeing here is the actual video, live stream video that we did,” Etheridge said as he gestured to a big screen inside the Pascagoula command center. “I’ll be able to see that on my cell phone. The incident commander can see it on his cell phone. If the governor wants to look at it, he’ll be able to look at it.”
There are six drones and all will be capable of live streaming at the same time.
“As an emergency manager, it’s a really big deal,” Etheridge said. “We’re taking technology that has been available for a while and actually incorporating it into what we do on a daily basis now. So, it’s a quantum step forward for us.”
Four people have been trained as drone pilots, and this new live-stream technology will help save lives.
“It’s unimaginable the difference that it makes in our jobs," Johnson said.
The live-stream technology is not the only thing new to beef up Jackson County emergency operations.
Just this week the OES added three new shallow-water fire and rescue boats through money received from Chevron as a result of an EPA fine.