State officials warn of drone use during emergency situations


HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — State officials are warning drone operators about the dangers those unmanned aircraft can pose in emergency situations.

There are currently more than 1.5 million drones registered in the United States, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Meanwhile, there are 81 licensed air ambulances in Pennsylvania.​

Officials with Pennsylvania State Police, PEMA, PennDOT and other organizations were at the PSP Academy in Hershey on Friday to talk about the risks of drones in emergency situations.​

They say EMS helicopters cannot land when a drone is in the vicinity. A mid-air collision between a drone and a helicopter could be devastating.​

Officials encourage all drone operators to get out of the way or land their drones if they see a police or EMS helicopter in the area.​

“What drone operators may not realize is that an EMS helicopter cannot land when there is a drone in the vicinity. That means that when this occurs, there could be a significant delay in getting care to a patient. This isn’t just an inconvenience, this can be a life or death situation,” said Ray Barishansky, deputy secretary for Health Preparedness and Community Protection. ​

There were more than 21,000 calls for air medical services in Pennsylvania in 2019.​

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