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COOS BAY — At the Feb. 4 Coos Bay City Council meeting, the council approved the acceptance of a State Homeland Security grant for the purchase of two drones to be used by Coos Bay and North Bend police and fire.

The grant for $10,700 will cover the cost of two drones and training for nine Coos Bay and North Bend police officers and firefighters to be trained as pilots.

Drones can provide real-time aerial images and video in high definition resolution. The small unmanned aircraft also provide thermal imaging to see through smoke, fog and darkness.  

This new technology will provide a perspective that helps firefighters and law enforcement officers better understand the scope of an incident and develop an informed operations plan, according to the city.

As part of a new inter-agency program, Coos Bay and North Bend emergency services will be sharing the drones. Each agency will have at least two trained and licensed pilots. Training of the pilots will begin this spring and the program should be operational by July.

Coos Bay chose to include the North Bend agencies in the program to provide comprehensive coverage of the whole Bay Area, which creates reasonable redundancy and strengthens the partnerships between the cities.

Examples of some of the applications include search and rescue missions, suspect pursuit, active shooter scene surveillance, evaluation of fire conditions and spread and post-disaster damage assessment.

Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.

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