Drone rescues swimmers in Australia in world first

Saul Bowman
January 19, 2018

John Barilaro, the deputy premier of New South Wales state, told Reuters that it was the first rescue of its kind.

The rescue with the drone took only 70 seconds, whereas a lifeguard rescue would have taken about six minutes, according to Northern NSW Parliamentary Secretary Ben Franklin, Fox News reported.

The trio were in Lennox Head for the launch of the Westpac Little Ripper drone as part of a State Government trial of the technology on North Coast beaches.

"This is a world first rescue", he told reporters. "Never before has a drone fitted with a floatation device been used to rescue swimmers like this".

Twitter users were wowed by the drone technology.

The call for rescue actually came into lifeguards as they were training with new drone equipment.

A bystander alerted lifeguards to the two teens, who were swimming in powerful surf about a kilometre north of the flags at Lennox Head's Main Beach.

Lifeguard supervisor Jai Sheridan was in the middle of piloting a drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle, at the time so was able to utilize the same device to drop the pod.

The pod, which is created to inflate when it hits water and extends into a three-metre long tube-shaped flotation device, then carried the swimmers on the waves back to shore.

Lifeguards launched the drone, steered it towards the swimmers and dropped a "rescue pod" into the water, where it expanded so the swimmers could grab it and swim to shore. The government has already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in drone technology for situations just like this and officials say the investment paid off quickly.

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