Town of Linn police tap into tech to locate person in need of assistance: 'Helps us do our job'

TOWN OF LINN -- Police in Walworth County say a life was likely saved on Thursday night, Oct. 17 -- all thanks to a drone.

"We bought this system in the hopes that we could help mitigate life-threatening situations," said James Bushey, Town of Linn Police Chief.

After hours of searching by foot, police say a man who had overdosed on pills in an attempt to take his life went missing Thursday night in a large, wooded area in Delavan.

"We were called out to assist," Bushey said.

Officials launched a drone equipped with a thermal imaging sensor. With little time to spare, that drone picked up a faint blur of body heat.

"We can kind of isolate or narrow down on certain heat palettes. So, if I wanted to look for a heat range of just say, 96-100 degrees, so kind of in that body temperature range, I can set it to that," Bushey said.

Town of Linn used drone with thermal imaging sensor to find subject

The man was located alive, lying in an overgrown/marshy area.

"To know we were able to save someone's life with something like this, potentially save someone's life, was huge. This is why we do it," Bushey said.

Earlier this week in Minnesota, thermal imaging technology on a drone helped find a missing 6-year-old boy.

"We have a standard camera. So we can just see things in normal light -- or we can flip on to the thermal side of things just for the heat signature," Bushey said.

In Walworth County, the sheriff's office and Lake Geneva police are using drones often.

"Helps us do our job very quickly and lead first responders to where they need to go," Bushey said.

Right now, six Town of Linn police officers are certified to fly. Even more are being trained.