Smith County, TX — Testing drones in East Texas is expanding.
Smith County Commissioners approved Phirst Technologies LLC to install a first responder drone and port at the Emergency Operations Center.
Earlier this year CBS19 told you about Tyler City Council approving that same company to do testing at Fire Station 9.
It's being marketed as the "first eyes" on the scene of an emergency.
A drone, able to get to a fire or emergency situation before first responders do while also sending back images of what's happening on the ground, thermal imaging and even gas sniffing information in case of dangerous toxins in the air.
The drone would be used to not only save the lives of the people first responders are working to help, but to also protect the lives of the first responders themselves.
"The excitement is very strong, because everyone gets the message very quickly that if we can get there early we can save more lives and save time," Phil Burks with the Genesis Group and Phirst Technologies LLC said after Commissioners Court.
The way the drone works is an address for an incident is programed into the drone. While that's happening the FAA permissions and flight paths are being file. The bird can then launch itself and head for the scene at 60 miles per hour.
Initial estimates show a drone arriving on scene three to four minutes before first responders and sometimes arriving only a minute before.
"In 2016 the FCC put out a report that said if we could shave one minute off of every 911 call in America, in one year it's equivalent to saving 10,000 lives," Burks said.
This testing is part of an Alpha testing phase which involves flying the drone up and down as well as back and forth - testing it in different weather situations as well.
The drone is expected to arrive in the next 30 days.