Weber County hopes to raise money to buy a search and rescue drone

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The DJI M300 drone is specialized payload designed around search and rescue and public safety including a high-resolution thermal camera, a 20-times optical zoom camera, and a laser range finder. Thursday, July 16 2020.

Weber County Search and Rescue is asking for the public’s helping in raising $30,000 for a high-tech drone.

The drone, called a DJI M300, is designed and sold by Centerville-based Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems, or RMUS. While WCSAR already uses drones to aid their efforts, the DJI M300 has longer battery life, a bigger range and can carry a larger payload — like an extra camera — to aid finding victims lost in the county’s rugged mountains.

The volunteer team provides its services to victims at no charge so it’s important to keep costs low, said Weber County Sheriff spokesperson Brooke Power.

“By far, when we’re able to use the drone, we are able to save a lot of manpower, equipment, time and money,” Power said.

The drone was flown Thursday at Weber State University as part of a news conference to demonstrate its capabilities and promote the fundraising campaign.

The DJI M300 also includes an infrared camera, 20-times optical zoom camera, laser range finder and speaker so WCSAR workers are able to communicate with victims.

“It adds a sense of, ‘there’s hope, they found us.' Especially for people who don’t have a phone,” Power said.

WCSAR is partnering with Bank of Utah to spread word about the fundraising campaign through billboards, email and social media. The bank also donated $1,000 for the drone.

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