Murfreesboro, Tennessee (WSMV) – With the help of drones, an elderly man with health complications was quickly returned to his family by first responders after his disappearance Thursday.
A Rutherford County fire rescue drone was used Thursday to locate Billy Parker.
“It was about 3:20 pm. I got a call from a dispatch that an elderly man is missing with some medical issues in the area,” said Corporal George Barrett of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department.
Barrett said it took about an hour and a half to find Billy Parker once the search began.
The county sheriff’s office and the fire department said using a drone in such incidents saves time and lives.
“I spoke with the wife, and she was concerned that he had been missing for an hour and a half,” Corporal Barrett said. “Within about 20 minutes of my arrival at the site, we had the first K9 team on the ground, and it was about 10 to 15 minutes later that the first team of drones arrived and were able to go ahead and take off,” he added.
When the drone is in the air, officials said, they look for thermal images and thermal signatures in areas that are not easily visible.
“When we first got there, we fired the drone, and we were able to search all the fields behind the guy’s house. To make sure he wasn’t there. We searched up and down Highway 231 on the Lebanon Highway to make sure he wasn’t on the road. Fire Department Chief Larry Farley of Rutherford County Fire Rescue said. “So we started searching in the wooded area, and then; about 20 minutes later, they found a heat signature and they could zoom in. Based on the description of the clothes and he had a walker, we were able to locate him.”
Fire Chief Farley said it would take the drone and a few sets of eyes from the drone systems trailer to cover a large area of land.
When we launched the drone, the pilots could see the camera. We also have the feed sent to the trailer here, so we have 2 or 3 people watching TV. “So we got my eyes looking for what we’re zooming in or what we’re looking for,” Farley said.
“They are able to use their other imaging equipment on the drone to search large areas, a fast amount of time, and they can also follow K9 teams,” Barrett said.
Tossin Fkele on News 4 asked why the drone was called in and used.
The fire chief said they work closely with the Rutherford Sheriff’s Office, have done several land searches, and have been very successful in finding people.
A tool that gives a different view of saving lives.
“That’s one of the main reasons, using it as a force multiplier. A drone can do the work of 10 people on the ground,” Corporal Barrett said.
“When someone is elderly or has memory problems or health problems, we locate them much faster than a ground search can do,” Chief Farley said.
Officials said Parker, who is in his 60s, was found 200 yards from his home in a wooded area.
Fire Chief Farley said they have had great success finding people with the drone, and are willing to bring their drones to help any department in surrounding counties.
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