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Posted on: September 17, 2018

Press Release - New Drone Unit

Drone 9-11-18 Maurice River Twp.

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Township of Maurice River

September 11, 2018

Maurice River Township Officials Announce a New “Drone Unit” That Will Save Lives In Time Of Emergencies

Maurice River Township Officials met on September 11th, a sacred day for First Responders with First Responders to introduce a new Drone Unit that is expected to be a major asset for Township residents. “The new Drone has so many uses that will benefit our Township especially when it comes to search and rescue operations ultimately saving many lives in the future” said Patti Gross, Mayor.  Mayor Gross stated, “We are so proud of our emergency First Responders that includes our Firefighters, Troopers, Sheriff Deputies, EMS, County and Township Office of Emergency Management Staff who jointly supports our new Drone Team”.  “By working together with all emergency agencies, our new drone unit will greatly benefit our Township and offer assistance throughout Cumberland County when called upon to answer an emergency” said Ken Whildin, Township Committeeman. “Other major uses will be the documentation of storm damage for our entire shore line that could provide FEMA funding” said Whildin.

The new Township drone will be used for woodland and marine search and rescue, emergency training evaluations, fire scene applications, forest fire pre planning, haz-mat emergencies, pre and post storm documentation including shore erosion where FEMA funding could apply after a storm. “The new Drone will be available to County emergencies providing mutual aid, NJ State Police hostage and active shooter emergencies, NJ Dept. of Corrections for search and rescue and crime situations involving the County Prosecutor’s Office” said Gordon Gross, Coordinator of Emergency Management for MRT. James Manski, Deputy Coordinator for the County OEM said “Maurice River’s new drone has additional capabilities that could supplement the County’s drone in all phases of Emergency Management”. “This drone will be the eyes in the sky for law enforcement in a number of police operations that could occur in Maurice River Township and surrounding areas” said Chief Warrant Officer Vince Solazzo from Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department. Fred Hundt, County Fire Marshall said that “this drone will help with pre-planning drills and serious incidents including major fires”.  Fire Chief Bud Hughes said that “if we had the technology readily available it would have been utilized when we had hunters lost in the woods, boaters stranded in the mud on the Maurice River and with local wildland fires where we could have saved valuable time knowing the situation from the air”. 

Joe Sterling, Firefighter and OEM Team member will be the Chief Operating Pilot and was the member who studied drone usage.  Mr. Sterling is registered with the Federal Aviation Administration for drone operations. “New Standard Operating Procedures will be in place for drone usage and will only be used for emergency operations and pre-planning along our shore line for potential emergencies” said Sterling. Mr. Sterling said the cost of the drone was $9,444 and was purchased from the emergency management line-item in the Township budget. The drone unit itself cost around $2,000 with $7,000 providing costs consisting of cameras, screens, recording and night vision devises”.  “This drone has a 3.5 mile range within an open area and a 1.5 mile range in wooded areas”, said Sterling.  The night vision capabilities will be extremely valuable in search and rescue operations during evening hours.


Picture:  L to R: 

Front Row: Bob Whildin-Fire Chief Heislerville FC, William Pettit-Asst. Chief Cumberland FC, Bud Hughes-Fire Chief Leesburg FC, Joe Martinez Deputy Chief-Port Elizabeth FC.

Back Row: Fred Hundt-CC Fire Marshall, Joe Sterling-Drone Pilot,  Gordon Gross-MRT OEM Coord., Ken Whildin-Twp. Committeeman, Patti Gross-Mayor, Vince Solazzo-Chief Sheriff’s Office, Trooper Torres, Trooper Minardi, Jim Manski-Deputy County OEM


**Contact Mayor Gross for any questions at 609-381-3402.


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