The Illinois State Police is getting some use out of what you might think of as a drone, but that's not what they call it. State Police have two Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or UAS's, that they can deploy statewide to any type of emergency, according to State Police Captain Matt Davis. Davis says the system, which has a camera on it like many drones, can be used like it was a first responder of sorts. "This technology would mostly be used for situational awareness," says Davis. "We'd be able to deploy the technology to let the fire and EMS know exactly the nature of the situation, the natures of the chemicals being spilled out into the environment, and the flow patterns away from the rail car."
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That's in the event of something like a train car leaking hazardous materials as was the case during a disaster drill outside Springfield this week; but Davis says it can also be used in serious traffic crashes or fires. "In crash scenes, in crime scenes, it's a tool that we can put on the scene to very quickly and accurately document scenes," says Davis. "You get the birds-eye view, so to speak, and it's a very helpful tool for quick and efficient documentation of scenes." Davis says in the few months the UAS program has been up and running, they've had no serious problems or glitches.