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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Fire and Emergency, New Zealand Police, and New Zealand Defence Force personnel have joined forces to improve their drone operating skills.
Around 25 people from all three agencies spent a week upskilling at a Level 3 drone training course held at the Army Training Centre in Waiouru.
District Manager Jeff Maunder oversees Fire and Emergency’s drone capability and says drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), are an important asset in emergency response.
“We use them to detect hot spots at a vegetation fire, complete rapid disaster assessments in a natural disaster, locate people and animals in need of rescue and they also help us gain situational awareness,” he says.
This is the first time the three agencies have come together in one place to advance their drone operating skills.
“Fire and Emergency, Police and NZDF work together in emergencies, and have been working together in the drone space for some time,” Jeff Maunder says.
“It made sense to complete the training together, leveraging off the capabilities and skills of each organisation and building our response capability on common platforms.
“The collaborative training will allow us to better support each other and work together when we need to respond to an emergency or undertake humanitarian aid and disaster response work here in New Zealand and in the Pacific.”
Inspector Darren Russell, Manager Aviation, Maritime and Border NZ Police says the training provides officers operating drones with enhanced skills for better outcomes at high-risk situations.
“Having our people training alongside counterparts in Fire and Emergency and NZDF to develop their skills with other highly skilled operators is of great value. Police appreciate the work of Fire and Emergency in this area and leading this training,” he says.
The Level 3 course was facilitated by Aviation Safety Management Systems. Aviation Safety Management Systems Chief Executive Andrew Shelley says the course builds on the initial operator qualification to provide the practical skills required for real world operations.
“We’re grateful to the NZDF for hosting the course at the Waiouru Defence Area,” he says.
“It enabled the course participants to be exposed to different climates and fly the drones in a controlled area where we could simulate different operational environments.”
Staff Sergeant Daniel Klaassen, of the 2nd Engineer Regiment Royal New Zealand Engineers, says it was an opportunity to leverage off the experience and lessons learnt from industry partners.
“This is invaluable in this fast and ever-developing capability.”
Jeff Maunder says the course is combination of lots of hard work, vision and exploring new ways we can better help communities in an emergency.
“The drone operators are now well prepared and keen to get back and take the new skills they have learnt out to the field.”