Two lucky Aussie teenagers Gabe Vidler and Monty Greeslade, both 17, were rescued from a life-threatening situation by the first ever surf Life Saving Drone.
The boys had been out body surfing at Lennox Beach, just north of Ballina at around 11.30am on Thursday when they were caught in a strong rip. Two metre waves crashed over the top of them as they were pulled further and further out to sea.
A few of their friends on the beach noticed the dangerous situation and alerted the life guards on patrol. Immediately the Westpac Little Ripper UAV was sent out to investigate. It took just 35 seconds for the drone to spot the teenagers then, hovering above them, it dropped an self-inflating lifesaving pod into the water.
The pod which is designed to inflate when it hits the water, is a three metre long tubular flotation device which is able to carry the two teenage boys on the waves back to the beach.
CEO of the Westpac Little Ripper company, Eddie Beenet explained to 9News that the drone, which the company developed for the past two years is the “new generation of rescue services.”
"The Westpac Little Ripper’s rescue today of the two young body surfers, in the 2.5-metre dangerous swell, clearly illustrates the benefit of this cutting-edge technology in such a time-critical emergency situation,” he said in a statement.
“It works, and Australia is leading the world in this technology.”
The lifeguard supervisor and drone operator on-duty at the time of the rescue, Jai Sheridan explained in a statement that the drone showed the efficiency of the new technology.
“The Little Ripper UAV certainly proved itself today it is an amazingly efficient piece of lifesaving equipment and a delight to fly,” he said.
“I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes.”
The rescue came after an additional AU$430,000 was added to the drone initiative by the NSW. government. Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair explained in a statement yesterday:
This is a world first rescue… never before has a drone, fitted with a flotation device, been used to rescue swimmers like this,” he said in a statement.
Lead Image and Video from: Little Ripper Life Saver