North Dakota Highway Patrol troopers are participating in a flight exercise that involves emergency responses.
We spoke with the pilot and commander of the aircraft on how it’s used.
“They’re training our emergency response team, the emergency response team is going to be set up in a location, they’re going to be looking for a subject,” Wade Kadrmas said.
This is no ordinary aircraft — but the 2007 Cessna aircraft is equipped with an infrared camera to help to find moving targets in plenty of outcomes.
“Lost people, floods anything that needs an emergency response,” Chief Pilot Dennis Gallager said.
Officers on the Highway Patrol aircraft are embarking on a mission to the skies.
“They’re going to go up and they’re going to go in the area where the ERT is training, and the pilot and the flare operator are going to get some training on trying to locate where the subject is hiding,” Kadrmas said.
Bennet Bitz is the tactical flight operator and handles the controls of the camera.
“We have an infrared camera whether it’s daytime or night time, we have the infrared at night or just the daytime camera as well,” Bitz said.
“It is called up several times a year as well,” Kadrmas said.
While eyes are in the skies, officers are in communication with first responders on the ground.
“We just talk back and forth on the radios and just get used to leading people in different directions,” Gallager said.
The team has a 30 minute period to get going when called to respond.
“Every day of the year that’s our goal to have the plane available, and we are most of the time. Helicopters are probably more useful in the larger cities, we want to go a lot of times longer distances and we have a longer flight duration,” Gallager said.
The aircraft can be used for about 40 to 50 rescues a year.