AUSTIN (Nexstar) – As more police and fire departments turn to drones as a resource for responding to emergency scenarios, Austin Community College’s Public Safety Training Center in Hays County will serve as a hub for training these agencies.
“Austin Community College, through the Public Safety Training Center, is dedicated to improving the training and abilities of our public safety officials,” Dale Toler, director of the center, said. “That includes fire department employees and emergency management.”
They’ve partnered with Drone Pilot, Inc. to offer training classes. The center hopes to serve as a resource statewide.
“Drone Pilot has a 100-hour course that spans three months,” Toler explained. “Two days each month are for the classroom and then you go back and you work with your drone for 40 plus hours.”
On Monday, several teams comprised of law enforcement agencies and first responders tested and competed in different emergency scenarios.
Drone Pilot, Inc. hopes it can provide the necessary training for public safety officials to know how to safely and efficiently operate a drone when needed.
“There’s no proficiency operation that has to be performed to be an operator for a drone,” John Buell, president of the company, said. “That’s where our company comes into play. We offer hands-on training that gets you a proficiency level for operating all robotics – air, ground and maritime.”
Buell said the current licensing process only requires a written exam. By offering this training, public safety officials could learn how to use the information collected from the drone to help with decision making, he said.
“We’re standardizing this region,” he said. “We’ve developed a way to train public safety and first responders that keeps everybody on the same operation standard across disciplines, from fire, city, EMS or city government.”
The Public Safety Training Center is scheduled to host nine classes in 2019. Toler expects that number to double for 2020.