Tennessee Baptist Association Uses Drone in Disaster Relief Efforts

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (BP) – When a teenage girl went missing in the east Tennessee mountains while walking her dogs, emergency responder Brandon Ramsey was able to do in 10 minutes what searchers on the ground couldn’t in more than two hours.

Ramsey was pouring concrete on a construction job when he and other volunteer members of Bean Station Fire and Rescue got the call. Fascinated with drones since he was a boy, the 18-year-old is aware of the advantage that accompanies a view from above. On that day, the thermal camera on his DJI Matrice 219 V2 quickly located the teenager who had wandered about a half-mile from the trail.

Ramsey, a member of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Rogersville, Tenn., also serves as the primary drone pilot for Nolachucky Baptist Association Disaster Relief. That role, said Southern Baptist Disaster Relief national director Sam Porter, is the first of its kind. With the advantages it brings, though, he hopes that doesn’t remain the case for long.

“It is a tremendous help to be able to fly up and hover over disaster sites to see all sides of any kind of debris,” he said. “This allows the teams to know how to strategize how best to assist the homeowners and to help the teams know what equipment is needed to respond.”

Thus far, the drone has been used to help locate those missing or deceased after natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods and hurricanes. It was instrumental in locating the source of flooding in Waverly, Tenn., as Ramsey guided it to a remote railroad bridge where debris had collected and effectively created a dam.

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Source: Baptist Press