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Firefighters Rescuing Stranded Drivers With Drones

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Local stranded drivers in deep trouble are being saved by drones. Heavy rain this week caused local creeks and rivers rise and some drivers, like the man behind the wheel of a partially submerged vehicle on Kiefer Road, are taking dangerous risks.

"They didn't see the sign or know that the water was as deep as it was," said Captain Ryan Gifford with Sacramento Metro Fire.

Crews rushed to the rescue with their new eye in the sky. The drone, better known as a UAV, is a lifesaving tool the department can now fly.

"Gives us the ability to get a birdseye view of the situation," he said.

In this swift water rescue, it was a high priority.

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"Before our boat crews went wading out to rescue the gentleman who got stranded, they were able to see where the vehicle was and what situation the vehicle is in," Gifford said.

The UAV's cameras also allow crews to quickly assess emergencies.

"We use both thermal imaging and zoom cameras to basically double check and confirm nobody was missing," he said.

It can also carry air sampling equipment for hazmats and other critical cargo.

"It gives us the ability to deliver lifejackets," he showed.

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The department began experimenting with drones last summer and they now have 14 of them.

"The ability to have this type of equipment out is really new, it's really new for us," he said.

A new technology Sac Metro Fire says is essential to saving lives throughout the county.

"We've got a lot of risks to mitigate and the river and the flood areas are a huge part of that," Gifford said.

Crews wanted to remind drivers that your car can stall in just six inches of water. If you see a warning sign or any high water, just turn around.

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