SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — South Haven Area Emergency Services will be able to better conduct water rescues thanks to a new specialized drone.
The purchase of the drone was made possible through a $7,500 grant from the Albermarle Foundation, which has a plant in South Haven, according to a news release Monday.
The drone is equipped with a payload delivery system capable of dropping CO2-charged, water activated flotation devices to swimmers struggling in the water.
Operated from the shore, the operator can see the distressed swimmer through a camera.
“We are excited to add this drone to our arsenal of water rescue tools for the upcoming summer months,” said Brandon Hinz, executive director of South Haven Area Emergency Services.
Last summer, the department responded to 23 incidents involving people in distress on Lake Michigan. There were three drownings.
The drone is also equipped with an infrared camera that can be used to find distressed swimmers in the dark.
It’s also capable of detecting heat signatures for search and rescue efforts in rural areas like woods and cornfields.