FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2018
Kraig Troxell, Media Relations and Communications Manager, 703-771-5278
Alex Kowalski, Public Information Officer, 703-777-0625
Loudoun County, VA – The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) program received a 2018 Achievement Award as a model local government program from the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo).
The LCSO was the first in Virginia and the sixth agency in the United States to have a sUAS, commonly referred to as a drone, equipped with a Project Lifesaver antenna. The Project Lifesaver program is an electronic-based locating system for people with medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, autism, or other conditions, who have a tendency to wander from home and become lost. Project Lifesaver clients are equipped with a wristband transmitter that emits an automatic locating signal. If the client becomes lost, the specially trained deputies with the LCSO Search and Rescue Team will now use the sUAS, equipped with the Project Lifesaver payload, to help locate the client.
The LCSO sUAS is also enabled to carry a payload of infrared and high resolution cameras to assist in search and rescue operations. Members of the LCSO Search and Rescue Team who operate the sUAS are licensed pilots through the FAA.
The sUAS and the LCSO Search and Rescue Team received national attention in December 2017 after the drone was utilized to locate a missing 92-year-old hunter in a heavily wooded area in Shenandoah County. Seven members of the team responded to the scene and utilized thermal imagers and the sUAS to search the area. The missing hunter was located safe just 20 minutes after the sUAS was deployed.
The sUAS allows members of the LCSO Search and Rescue Team to search remote locations in the immediate area. Members of the agency who operate the sUAS are licensed pilots through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Per the Code of Virginia, the sUAS may only be deployed by law enforcement without a warrant when operating for the purpose of search and rescue and related training.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office was among 25 recipients of the 2018 Achievement Awards. VACo received 206 entries. Loudoun County has received 21 VACo achievement awards in the 16-year history of the program. More information about the awards program is available at www.vaco.org.