Drones Could Assist Lifeguards in Rescues, Shark Sighting

July 9, 2015  - By

Lifeguards in the United States are testing how drones may help save lives in coastal waters. Cameras on drones can spot sharks from above, and drones are able to reach struggling swimmers faster than lifeguards to deliver life preservers.

In Seal Beach, Calif., lifeguards are using the flying device to monitor sharks. “It’s an extremely valuable tool for our water observation,” said Joe Bailey, chief of Seal Beach’s Marine Safety and Lifeguard Department, told the Los Angeles Times. The Seal Beach Marine Safety Department purchased a DJI Phantom 3 drone to monitor sharks off the coast. Safety officials fly the device at least twice a week to track juvenile great white sharks.

Meanwhile, lifeguards in Long Branch, N.J., are testing using drones to get life preservers out to swimmers in the ocean faster than a lifeguard could reach them. It would not replace the rescue work done by lifeguards in the water, however, who would still swim or row out to a victim. But it would buy a struggling swimmer extra time.

The Phantom 3 in flight at a press event.

The Phantom 3 in flight at a press event.

“This is not to cut back on any lifeguards. This is a lifeguard’s tool to help move them along a lot faster in making the save, getting a life preserver out to a person,” said Michael Sirianni, president of the Long Branch City Council, told the Asbury Park Press.

The drones would be especially helpful when conditions are extreme, such as big surf and high winds that make it difficult to reach someone stranded. The drones could fly out a mile or two to reach distressed stand-up paddle boarders, kite surfers or capsized boats. Its camera could help locate submerged persons quicker, while microphones and speakers could enable lifeguards to talk to a person in the water.

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2 Comments on "Drones Could Assist Lifeguards in Rescues, Shark Sighting"

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  1. William K. says:

    Drones assisting with lifesaving could easily create a very good public image of the technology, which could benefit the whole industry. And if said drones did actually provide real lifesaving assistance it would be great.