Drone conference

Scott Kensinger, with Winchester Fire and Rescue, prepares to begin a drone training exercise during the 2019 National Public Safety UAS Conference at King Family Vineyards.

Piedmont Virginia Community College has established a Public Safety Advisory Board to review drone curriculum and provide advice on the industry.

The board will meet quarterly and will provide recommendations for the annual Unmanned Aircraft Systems conference hosted by Piedmont.

“Virginia has been a leader in UAS implementation in public safety,” said Valerie Palamountain, dean of PVCC Workforce Services. “PVCC has an agreement with the Virginia Center for Innovative Technologies to provide public safety UAS training in Virginia, and has a national reputation in training public safety UAS pilots.”

The appointees to the board are Charles L. Werner, former Charlottesville fire chief, who will facilitate; Chris Sadler, deputy chief of York County Fire & Life Safety; Lt. Michael Roth of the Henrico County Division of Fire; Ben Worcester of the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office; Capt. Paul Helmuth of the Harrisonburg Fire Department; and Capt. Micaiah Ledford of Albemarle County Fire Rescue.

PVCC launched its drone program in 2015 and, in 2016, became the first college in the nation to receive a certificate of authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct research and development of small, unmanned aerial systems for public safety.

The college held its first class for first responders in 2016, setting the standard for training programs across the country. Since its inception, the Piedmont program has trained about 250 people and a dozen agencies in UAS technology, operations and integration.

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