World First Drone Rescue Saves Teens Off Northern NSW

Lifesavers praise 'Little Ripper'

Amy Drew

19 January 2018

Amy Drew

Article heading image for World First Drone Rescue Saves Teens Off Northern NSW

For the first time ever in Australia, surf lifesavers have used a drone to help save two teenagers stuck in dangerous surf off the coast of Northern New South Wales.

Monty Greenslade, 16, and Gabe Vidler, 17, initially didn't think they were in trouble while battling 3m waves off Lennox Head on Thursday, but when beachgoers raised the alarm lifeguards stepped into action, keen to try out their brand new technology.

Within 90 seconds of being alerted, they were able to fly the Westpac 'Little Ripper' drone out to the boys and drop an inflatable floatation device before waves eventually washed them ashore.

The drone wasn't intended to be primarily used as a rescue assistant, initially funded as part of a shark mitigation strategy.

"Initially, I was more scared that it was going to be a shark alarm or something, but once it dropped the package we realised that we were probably in a little more trouble that we thought," Greenslade and Vidler told Sunrise on Friday.

Lifeguard Jai Sheridan said the rescue was "exciting".

"It's a world first, we were still conducting training on that day. We're just so excited to have this technology that cuts our response time in half, pretty much," he said.

Surf Life Saving Queensland are also trialling the drones and after this rescue it's likely they'll be rolled out across the state sooner rather than later.



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