By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
During Hurricane Florence and its aftermath, many Darlington County firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel spent 10 days working from the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), away from their families and homes.
Thanks to a partnership with State Farm Insurance and technology company Canary, local first responders will now be able to do their jobs while ensuring that their loved ones are safe.
Through their “Protect the Protectors” campaign, State Farm and Canary have provided Darlington County’s first responders with 250 home security cameras, which can be monitored remotely from a computer or smartphone. The device allows users to monitor motion, air quality and temperature changes through the use of an app.
“This partnership between us and technology company Canary was created as a way to show our admiration and thanks for what you all do in the community,” said Bill Moore, State Farm Insurance agent in Darlington.
“We hope that this will provide you with a bit more personal security and allow you to do your jobs with confidence, knowing that all is safe and sound with your families and homes, and if something wasn’t, you would be immediately able to find out.”
On Jan. 25, State Farm representatives met with first responders at the EOC and presented them with their free devices. Since the launch of the campaign in December 2015, more than 15,000 Canary home monitoring devices have been donated by State Farm and Canary to first responders across the country.
“We spend a lot of our time out in the public trying to make things better for everyone else, and a lot of times we leave home for an extended period of time … so having a Canary system is kind of a big deal. I can pull it up on my phone and make sure everything’s good, and it will send me an alert if something is not good,” said Ricky Flowers, Darlington County Fire District (DCFD) Chief.
Kenny Bowen, Darlington County Emergency Management director, said that EMS personnel were sometimes away from home for 72 continuous hours during last year’s hurricane and flooding, and the Canary systems will be “a great help to them.”
State Farm has teamed with DCFD before on public safety grant programs, such as providing the department with a trained arson dog named Cato. Chief Flowers offered guests a brief skills demonstration where Cato located trace amounts of accelerant and signaled its presence.
“What used to take us hours when processing a fire scene takes us now about 15 minutes to find out if there’s anything we need to be concerned about,” said Flowers, who lauded Cato’s efficiency and rewarded her with treats.