DUBOISTOWN, Pa. -- Volunteers at the Duboistown Fire Department in Lycoming County are celebrating National Drone Safety Awareness Week.
Paul Vavra has been flying drones for the Duboistown Fire Department for the last two years. Almost once a month, he gets the call to pilot one of the station's drones in an emergency situation.
"If we can do something to help find a missing person or to do fire surveillance, I feel that it is a huge asset to the county," Vavra said.
The Duboistown Fire Department is just one of two emergency services in all of Lycoming County with a drone operator. This fire department has five drones at its disposal.
This week, Vavra and the whole Duboistown Fire Department are celebrating Drone Safety Week. The goal is to encourage other emergency services in the area to start using drones.
"Sometimes, people have a misconception that drones are not used for good and can be used for nefarious purposes. This week highlights that drones have an important role in public safety."
Other members of the fire department told Newswatch 16 that the drone also keeps them out of harm's way.
"It's a set of eyes and ears because it picks up sound as well, and we can send it out in a situation where it might be hazardous to put a fireman," said deputy fire chief John West.
"It used to be when you had a lost person you throw, you know, a hundred or so people into the woods. With this, you could put a couple less in and get the drone up," said firefighter Chris Greenawalt.
The station was recently granted money to train more pilots with a certain set of skills.
"We're looking for young people that have an interest in doing this, and this is something a guy doesn't have to get his hands dirty if he doesn't want to. He just has to go out and maybe use some of those skills he got maybe when he was a kid at home playing with his device at home with his joystick," West said.
If you're interested in becoming a volunteer drone pilot, you can contact the Duboistown Fire Department at 570-323-6903.