BARGERSVILLE, Ind. - After six months on the job, a new technology is getting credited for rescuing a missing woman.
According to the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, at around 2:20 Thursday morning a woman was reported missing in the southwest corner of the county.
Police and other search members had the searched narrowed down to around the 4300 block of County Road 900 South. Assisting in the search was a Johnson County Sheriff's Office deputy who had been at a search before where the Bargersville Community Fire Department's drone was called in to help.
That deputy recommended dispatch call the drone in to help with the search.
Two hours into the search, Bargersville Community Fire division chief Eric Funkhouser arrived with the drone. Within 15 minutes of it in the air, the woman was found alive.
“We had located her and we were able to end the search basically," Funkhouser said. "We were able to see that heat signature on the screen and then take the drone, fly it over where she was located and hover above her. Members of the sheriff’s department and those at the scene went straight to where the drone was in the air and locate her.”
Since taking its first lift off, the drone has made roughly 20 runs to help with searches. Even though it had never located a missing person before Thursday morning, Funkhouser said the technology has plenty of benefits.
“We’re cutting down on the amount of time that emergency responders have to be out, walking through fields, putting themselves in harm’s way, when we can cover these areas without having to do that," Funkhouser said.
The department currently has two members who are certified to fly the drone, but more could become certified as it gets used more and more.
While Funkhouser believes in the drone program, he said finding someone for the first time was special.
“It validates everything that we wanted in this program," he said. "To be able to go out and make a difference and locate someone who was having a medical emergency this morning, and find her and get her the help she needed – she was lost out there – to locate her means everything to us.”