COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) - The Council Bluffs Fire Department purchased a drone three years ago, and since then has found multiple uses for it.
Special Operations Coordinator Cliff Anderson, an 18-year veteran of the department is one of four pilots at the department.
"We have two controllers. One controller can be plugged into another TV or an external source so others can watch or help see things while we're trying to fly it," said Anderson.
The drone is used at fires, ice rescues, trainings for firefighters, and water rescues or recoveries. The drone was used on Monday as crews searched for missing 16-year-old Edgar Loarca Garcia who drowned in Lake Manawa. The drone can't see deep into the water, but can be used to cover a large area quickly.
"It's not waterproof so it doesn't work well in the rain. We can't fly out when it's rainy, but it comes in handy near bodies of water," added Anderson.
The drone also has landing great that retracts. A life jacket can be attached to it and drop it off to someone in the water who may be in danger.
"It's a great tool and every time we turn around it seems like we find another use for it so it's one of those where the more you use it, the more you find places to use it," said Anderson.
Since CBFD is the only agency in the Council Bluffs area to have a drone, they are often called to assist other local agencies.
"A lot of times people will call for it or, like certain scenarios we have in town, like for people in the river rescues, water rescues, all that stuff, we kind of automatically already have it ready," said Anderson. "But we've helped PD before and have searched for people in corn fields before and everything shows up - little animals, everything in the corn field will show up."
Anderson says all the footage is stored and is often used for training.