Drone used to rescue swimmers at Lennox Head – Echonetdaily

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A flotation device is dropped to two swimmers at Lennox Head. (NSW Government)

Lifeguards used a drone to rescue two swimmers caught in heavy surf at Lennox Head yesterday in what has been described as a world first.

The lifeguards were undergoing training in the use of drones when a call came through that two swimmers were in trouble in the surf.

Lifeguard supervisor Jai Sheridan, the 2017 NSW Lifeguard of the Year, was piloting the drone at the time and was able to locate the swimmers within minutes of the initial alert.

Mr Sheridan used the drone, named Little Ripper, to drop a flotation device to the swimmers, who were then able to make their way back to shore.

The lifeguards are being trained to use the drones as part of the NSW government’s $16 million shark mitigation strategy. The government is investing $430,000 in drone technology on the north coast.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro, said Thursday’s rescue proved that the government’s investment was paying off.

“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,” Mr Barilaro said.

Northern NSW parliamentary secretary Ben Franklin thanked the lifeguards for their incredible efforts.

‘It took only 70 seconds from when the Little Ripper drone was launched to when it dropped the pod into the ocean for the rescue, a task that would usually take a lifeguard up to six minutes to complete,’ Mr Franklin said.

‘This was an extraordinary rescue with the very best possible outcome’