Church volunteers dedicate drone to search and rescue efforts

Heartland church offers up drone to help local law enforcement

MOUNT VERNON, IL (KFVS) - A group of volunteers in the Heartland took it upon themselves to get certified and buy a $3,000 drone to assist local law enforcement agencies in a variety of different search and rescue operations.

The Salem South Baptist Disaster relief crew in Mt. Vernon has almost 20 dedicated and certified search and rescue volunteers in the area.

The group has traveled to the region since at least 2010 to assist law enforcement in operations ranging from everything to search efforts to storm and flood cleanup.

Organizers said the drone could prove an essential tool in searching for a missing person.

"This shortens the time to find somebody and very possibly find them alive rather than dead," pilot Don Bigham said.

"The drone would be able to assist in searching say a cornfield or a very large field," Assistant Police Chief Trent Page said. "They're very difficult to maneuver through and having a view from the sky would greatly benefit officers on the ground."

Members of the church group earned their drone certification from a course offered by Rend Lake College.

Multiple colleges nationwide started offering such courses in the spring of 2016 in preparation for long-anticipated drone regulations released from the FAA this week.

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