Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) announced it has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to use an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for search and rescue, explosive ordinance detection, hazardous materials incidents, disaster response, arson fires, hostage rescue, and barricaded and armed suspects.

Also known as a drone, the UAS is remote-controlled and features an on-board vehicle camera. It is assigned to the Special Enforcement Bureau, which includes the Emergency Services Detail, Special Enforcement Detail, Arson/Explosives Detail, and HazMat Detail.

A group of deputies was trained to operate the drone, each receiving a Remote Pilot certificate with a small UAS rating from the FAA. Deputy personnel also trained as tactical medics to remotely assess injured patients and provide them with medical care.

This new addition will give the Sheriff's Department better access to dangerous calls. Deputies can view fire scenes remotely to assist in determining the origin of the fire and whether there are unseen victims. Arson/Explosives Detail investigators respond to an average of 500 calls each year, and Search and Rescue personnel respond to over 500 operations each year, often in treacherous terrain.