Calgary man who’s come ‘back from the dead’ hopes to help fight California wildfires

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WATCH: A Calgary man has headed south hoping to lend a hand with the wildfires in California. As Gil Tucker reports, he knows all too well what it's like to be caught in the middle of a life-threatening situation – Nov 23, 2018

A Calgary man who’s battled back from a life-threatening crisis of his own is now hoping he can help people fighting the widespread wildfires in California.

David Stonehouse’s company, VeriMap, has used its homegrown thermal imaging cameras to fly over wildfires in British Columbia for the past two years.

“[It’s] the largest thermal sensor in the world,” Stonehouse said. “We can literally find embers the size of a cigarette two miles away.
“We’re able to map the fire and then send the data to the ground people or the water bombers. [This helps them] put the fire out sooner or get people out of the way sooner.”
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READ MORE: BC Wildfires: More money available for prevention measures

Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the California wildfires in the fall of 2018.

Stonehouse and other members of his team loaded one of their infrared cameras on their specially outfitted company plane to fly to Reno, Nev., on Wednesday.

They’ll be meeting with a company there that builds large drones, hoping to expand their role in fighting the California wildfires.

“Our cameras go into these drones,” Stonehouse said, “to help them in their efforts to [carry out] robotics water bombing at night, which is not done now.”
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READ MORE: BC couple spending vacation helping victims of California wildfires

Stonehouse is still recovering from when he suffered a massive heart attack as he boarded the company plane for a test flight in October 2016.

“As the doctor said: ‘When I got to you Mr. Stonehouse, you were as dead as it gets,'” Stonehouse said. “They froze me and then I had a stroke. So an incredible team brought me back from the dead.”

Stonehouse is still working on regaining his speech and the use of his right side, now working with a Calgary doctor to see if his thermal imaging technology could help other patients receiving critical care.

“By taking pictures of the body, they’ll now know where cold spots are, lack of circulation,” Stonehouse said. “[It] could help save more lives.”

Stonehouse feels like a man on a mission as he carries on after his health crisis.

“I’m in the less-than-one-per-cent-survival club, so for whatever reason, I’m here,” Stonehouse said. “It feels good to save lives.”


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