Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

'Little Ripper' Drone Rescues Australian Swimmers In World First

Nationals MLC Ben Franklin and lifesaver Jai Sheridan. Source supplied Nationals MLC Ben Franklin and lifesaver Jai Sheridan. Source supplied
Andrew Cummings | 19 January, 2018, 02:03

"This is a world first rescue", Deputy Premier John Barilaro said, per news.com.au.

"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.

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", he said.

Two northern NSW teenagers today became the first swimmers worldwide to be rescued from risky surf conditions by lifesaving drone technology.

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

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Eddie Bennet, CEO of the Westpac Little Ripper group, told 9NEWS the drone technology - which has been in development for three years and patrolled parts of NSW for the past two years - "is the new generation of rescue services".

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. Lifeguards sent the drone to rescue them by dropping an inflatable rescue pod, and they grabbed it and swam to shore.

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

Mr Sheridan said it took just a minute or two to launch the drone, fly it to the rescue site, and drop the pod.

Barilaro said the state government had invested A$430,000 (S$454,000) in a trial of drone technology in December.

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