BELMAR, NJ — Belmar now has a new high-tech tool — flying high in the sky — to assist in emergency situations and in keeping the public safe during the coronavirus crisis.

The borough’s Bureau of Fire Protection and Prevention recently received a specialized aerial drone through the National Public Safety Drone Donation Program (NPS-DDP), which will be used in a variety of ways to enhance on-the-ground efforts by firefighters, first-responders and other public safety officials.

As a result, there will be a state-of-the-art “eye in the sky” when responding to emergency calls, conducting fire investigations and developing emergency plans for large-scale events. During this summer of COVID-19, it quickly has become instrumental in monitoring beach capacity to ensure social distancing is maintained and in the planning of outdoor dining areas for borough food and drink establishments.

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“With this new technology comes a better service that is more efficient,” said Belmar Fire Official/Investigator Ryan Dullea, who oversees the bureau, which has jurisdiction over Belmar, as well as Lake Como, Spring Lake and Spring Lake Heights.

The donation of the drone — a DJI Phantom 4, valued at $2,000 with accessories — was made possible by New Jersey American Water in partnership with NPS-DDP, the nonprofit arm of Airborne Works. In addition, Belmar received a one-year subscription at no charge of Skybrowse, a technology software to better assist in mapping, tracking and obtaining measurements.

Based in Hartford, Conn., Airborne Works provides training and consulting services in unmanned aerial vehicle technology (UAV). Founder/CEO Marc Langley established NPS-DDP to support public safety departments nationwide with acquiring UAV technology through voluntary donations from the private, corporate and community sectors.

“In emergency situations, every second is deemed important. UAV and drone technology can provide lifesaving assistance to public safety departments/companies with emergency calls,” Langley said. “Unfortunately, many public safety departments/companies across the nation cannot afford to purchase UAVs/drones, as the cost of the technology is very high. This forces many to simply go without.”

Filling that void since 2018 has been NPS-DDP — the only UAV/drone donation program of its kind in the country. For more information, visit its website by clicking here

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