Recently a friend asked why was DRONERESPONDERS formed and about my role as director/founder.
So here goes...DRONERESPONDERS (a nonprofit program) was formed to provide resources, find solutions, effect regulatory change, influence innovation, recognize successes and create a public safety drone network/community of sharing to advance the use of drones to save lives, save property, improve operational effectiveness and create real time situational awareness - ALL AVAILABLE FOR FREE.
In the beginning, DRONERESPONDERS was put in place with blood, sweat and tears by a couple of people and by contributions of information by many of you. As the program grew and became known, corporate patrons began to see the interest in supporting DRONERESPONDERS and ultimately to support programs that support public safety drone implementation. Today, I am pleased to report that DRONERESPONDERS has exceeded 3800 members with participation from 48 countries.
Corporate Patrons support the organization to essentially cover expenses that cover hosting the website, Resource Center, Discussion Forums, Webinars, FAA Webinars, Podcasts, Working Group Activity, Newsletters and our collective effort to advance initiatives like the Tactical BVLOS Waiver, the Drone as a First Responder Program, the Community Outreach Program, development of a Nationwide Public Safety UAS database and map (with NASA AMES and Esri) and more.
As for me, I have been involved with public safety 47 years. I spent 37 years as a career firefighter with the Charlottesville VA Fire Department, the last ten years as fire chief - working with a great CFD team to achieve International Accreditation and an ISO Rating of 1. During that time, I also had the honor of serving as a sworn reserve deputy for the Albemarle County Sheriff’s Office. Throughout my career I have been involved with technology (communications, interoperability, GIS, thermal imaging, broadband, FirstNet, information sharing, etc.). Drone technology was a natural next transition and now most of this technology has converged.
As for my role as director, I do this as a passion to support all of you doing so many great things with drones. I do this in a voluntary capacity and I do not receive any compensation for this role. Fortunately with my retirement and other opportunities, I can afford to support DRONERESPONDERS in this way. My reward for this is to work with so many great people like you, provide resources and see your many accomplishments and the building of an incredible global sharing network.
Thanks for your participation, contributions and friendship. Let’s make 2021 a fantastic year together!
Chief Charles L. Werner (Ret.-Emeritus)