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A “WORLD first rescue” happened today in NSW when a government drone rescued two distressed teenagers swept out to sea.
A DRONE, paid for by NSW taxpayers, has dramatically proved its worth when it helped save the lives of two teenagers on Thursday.
Two boys, aged 16 and 17, got into trouble in the surf off the coast of Lennox Head, near Byron Bay in northern NSW. At the same time, lifeguards were having a training session to familiarise themselves with the drones.
At around 11.30am a member of the public noticed the pair were in trouble in the three metre swell and called lifeguards.
Lifeguard supervisor, Jai Sheridan, who was also the 2017 NSW Lifeguard of the Year, decided to make the training session very real by piloting the drone towards the swimmers.
“The lifeguard in this scenario got the Little Ripper drone up in the air and guided it down the beach,” Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said on Thursday.
“Using the drone, the lifeguard was able to spot the swimmers, and then drop the Rescue Pod into the water.
“Vision captured by the drone shows the Pod expanding, allowing both swimmers to reach it and grab hold of the device to help them stay afloat,” he said.
Both swimmers were able to use the pod to make their way to shore, where they were met by lifeguards from Lennox Head who had raced to the scene.
Despite showing signs of fatigue, the two boys escaped injury.
In December 2017, the NSW Government announced it would invest $430,000 in drone technology as part of a trial on the north coast of NSW.
“This is a world first rescue,” Deputy Premier John Barilaro said.
“Never before has a drone, fitted with a flotation device been used to rescue swimmers like this.
“It’s quite incredible to see that the NSW Government’s investment in this technology has already resulted in two people having their lives saved,” he said.
It took little more than a minute for “Little Ripper” to travel the one kilometre from where the lifeguards were situated to the swimmers. A similar task, performed by a lifeguard, could have taken up to six times linger.
“This was an extraordinary rescue with the very best possible outcome,” Mr Blair said.