Drone Saves Drowning Swimmers for First Time Ever

The lifeguards piloting the drone were being trained on how to use the device when beachgoers alerted them to the teens who needed rescuing.

Published 23 Jan 2018, 13:12 GMT
Swimmers Rescued by Drone from Raging Ocean Waves

Lifeguards in Australia pulled off a daring ocean rescue this week—without needing to get in the water.

Two teenage boys got caught in rough surf near Lennox Head, a coastal town in northern New South Wales. A rip tide had pulled them far from shore. They were struggling with nine-foot-tall waves, which aren’t easy to manoeuvre around by boat.

A person on the beach saw them struggling and alerted the lifeguards.

At the time, the lifeguards were in the middle of their training to use the Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver drone. Supervisor Jai Sheridan seized the opportunity to put the drone into action and piloted it over to the struggling teens.

Once the drone was about a half mile above them, it dropped an inflatable device into the water. The struggling swimmers grabbed onto it and swam to shore, where they were safe but very tired.

The rescue took one to two minutes, Sheridan told the Sydney Morning Herald, which is much faster than a traditional rescue. When the beach’s lifeguards swim out into the water to rescue people, it typically takes a few minutes longer.

The local government says this is the first such rescue in the world.

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