The world’s first drone water rescue took place in Australia this week after two teenagers were in life-threatening danger after getting stuck in the ocean.
The 15-year-old and 17-year-old swimmers got stuck in the surf off the coat of Lennox Head in New South Wales.
A member of the public spotted them about 2,300 feet offshore, reported BBC.
Lifesavers then sent the drone to drop an inflatable rescue pod, enabling the swimmers to escape the danger and make it safely to shore.
The call for rescue actually came into lifeguards as they were training with new drone equipment.
Lifeguard supervisor Jai Sheridan was in the middle of piloting a drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle, at the time so was able to utilize the same device to drop the pod.
“The Little Ripper UAV certainly proved itself today, it is an amazingly efficient piece of lifesaving equipment and a delight to fly,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“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.”
John Barilaro, the deputy premier of New South Wales state, told Reuters that it was the first rescue of its kind.
“Never before has a drone fitted with a flotation device been used to rescue swimmers like this,” he said.
Kelvin Morton, the manager for the drone project, added to ABC that the project itself is a world-first.
“There is no other lifesaving operation or organization worldwide that is doing what we’re doing on the size and scale that we’re doing it,” he said.
A pair of Australian swimmers become the first people to be rescued in the ocean by a drone when the aerial lifesaver dropped a safety device to distressed teens caught in rough seas https://t.co/l6tTfRPdZ3 pic.twitter.com/RRGPGENEYl
— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 18, 2018
“These UAVs that we’re using to drop these inflatable pods is innovative, and we know that most or all of the lifesaving organizations around the world are stepping back and waiting to see how this goes.”
The government in New South Wales revealed in December that it had invested $340,000 in drones.
Some are geared towards lifesaving efforts while others are utilized for other purposes, such as spotting sharks in the notoriously infested waters.
Australia had 291 drownings last year.