Australia lifesaving drone in world first dramatic rescue

A screenshot from the Little Ripper drone after it dropped the inflatable rescue device to two teenage swimmers in trouble

A screenshot from the Little Ripper drone after it dropped the inflatable rescue device to two teenage swimmers in trouble

"This is a world-first rescue", Australian Deputy Premier John Barilaro told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"There is no easy way to reduce risks for swimmers and surfers", proclaimed Niall Blair, the New South Wales minister for primary industries, at the time.

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.

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Kelvin Morton, the manager for the drone project, added to ABC that the project itself is a world-first.

"Never before has a drone, fitted with a flotation device been used to rescue swimmers like this", Barilaro said.

The call for help just so happened to have sounded as a group of nearby lifeguards were undergoing training on how to use the drones.

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The lifeguards about a kilometer away deployed the drone after being alerted by the teens' friends. Using their life preserver, they were able to swim back to shore safely. Lifeguards put the drone in the air and moved it towards the swimmers and dropped an inflatable pod into the water, where it expanded.

Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin thanked the lifeguards for their incredible efforts.

"I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes", lifeguard supervisor Jai Sheridan told the Gold Coast Bulletin. 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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