Drones to drop ‘rescue tubes’ to swimmers at hazardous beaches

TWO new aerial drones with the ability to drop inflatable rescue tubes to distressed swimmers are being rolled out at beaches south of the Gold Coast.

The unmanned aerial vehicles will be used by surf lifesavers patrolling incident-prone beaches between Tweed Heads and Ballina.

They’re part of an exciting new partnership between Cudgen Headland Surf Life Saving Club and the Gold Coast Airport.


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Cudgen Headland SLSC President Adam Mills said the drones would improve aerial surveillance capabilities, particularly during search and rescue missions.

“The UAVs are foldable and fit into a travel case, so they can be carried remotely and launched within minutes,” he said.

“They are piloted using a mobile phone and have infrared search capability, meaning we can spot people in the water more easily.

“We can also record and messages and safety announcements via the pilot’s mobile to be broadcast from the onboard speaker, and drop an inflatable rescue tube to swimmers in distress.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of Gold Coast Airport to assist frontline surf lifesaving in the far north of New South Wales.”

Gold Coast Airport Chief Operating Officer Marion Charlton said she has no doubt the drones will help save the lives of both locals and tourists.

“The rate of drownings at beaches along the NSW far north coast is alarmingly high,” she said.

“Overseas visitors are particularly vulnerable in our sometimes-unpredictable surf, due to their lack of experience with the conditions.

“Having a full arsenal of technologically-advanced rescue equipment is nothing short of a necessity for our surf life savers, so we are pleased to play a role in the all-important surf safety mission.”

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