Two distressed swimmers were saved in a first-of-its-kind rescue mission involving a drone. Thankfully, the drone also captured the footage of the whole ordeal.
The swimmers, ages 15 and 17, were struggling to stay afloat as they were caught by the wild waves off Australia’s Far North Coast. After a bystander noticed the two, he alerted lifeguards who then put their drone to use.
The incident caught the lifeguards by surprise as they were in the middle of a training session involving the unmanned aerial vehicle.
Jai Sheridan, lifeguard supervisor, masterfully piloted the drone, dubbed “Little Ripper,” over to the swimmers. In less than two minutes, the drone had been able to drop a self-inflating rescue pod near the two teens who promptly held on to the floating tube and made their way back to shore.
In an interview with the BBC, New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro said that “[n]ever before has a drone fitted with a flotation device been used to rescue swimmers like this.”
Sheridan added that, without the drone, the rescue could have taken three times as long, which could have put the lives of the swimmers in danger.
“I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes. On a normal day that would have taken our lifeguards a few minutes longer to reach the members of the public,” he said.
By the looks of it, New South Wales’ $340,000 investment in drone technology really paid off as this rescue mission happened so early during the state’s initial drone trial phase.
Perhaps now that this rescue has shown how efficient these devices can be, countless more lives will be saved thanks to how quickly these devices are able to reach people in danger.