Drone used to save teenage swimmers in 'world first'

Friday, 19 Jan, 2018

There's been a world first on Australia's New South Wales coast as two swimmers in trouble have been saved by a drone.

Lifesavers instantly sent the drone to drop an inflatable rescue pod, and the pair made their way safely to shore.

The rescue, which happened as lifeguards from the Australian Lifeguard Service were preparing for a training session with the brand-new drone fleet, was lauded as groundbreaking. If the drone had not been used, the lifeguards estimate that it would have taken easily thrice as long to reach the teenagers. Both swimmers, aged between 15 and 17, used the flotation device to return to shore through 2,300 feet of strong waves, according to the BBC. (Not really.) These drones are also being used as shark spotters as well.

The Little Ripper drone, financially backed by Australia's Westpac bank, was controlled by Jai Sheridan - Lifeguard supervisor and Lifeguard of the Year in NSW.

The drone filmed the moment it flew above the teenagers before dropping an inflatable device which landed nearly within arm's reach.

Sheridan launched a Little Ripper drone to perform the rescue. 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.

The rescue marks the first rescue performed by a drone.

The rescue took 70 seconds, Reuters said.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said the rescue proved the trial had paid off.

"This was an extraordinary rescue with the very best outcome", he said to The Sydney Morning Herald.