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WATCH: World's first drone rescue saves Aussie teens from drowning

Drones can see things in the water that a jet-ski simply can't.

It’s not how the lifeguards did it on “Baywatch.” But in Australia on Thursday, a drone was used to save the lives of two young swimmers, in what local authorities are hailing as a world first.

The rescued boys, aged 17 and 15, were spotted struggling in three-meter swell about 700 meters off Lennox Head in the state of New South Wales.

Fortunately for them, it was the first day of a trial of new drone technology by local surf lifesavers. Less than two minutes after they were reported in distress, a surf lifesaver had used the drone to locate the teens, and drop them an inflatable rescue pod, which they used to swim safely to shore.


New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian tweeted footage from the drone flight, hailing it as “the first rescue of its kind.”

Jai Sheridan, the lifeguard who operated the drone, praised the technology’s swift response time in an interview with Australian broadcaster ABC.

"Between taking off and spotting the swimmers and then deploying the flotation device, it took us only about 70 seconds,” he said.

“I'm just so happy that it was a really good outcome and these two boys were able to make it to shore safely.”

Surf Life Saving NSW’s Kelvin Morton, project manager for the $344,000 drone trial, told ABC that the drone brought distinct advantages.

“It gives them eyes across the water at a height of 60 meters and they can move at 50 kilometers an hour,” he said.

“They've never had that ability before. They can see things in the water that a jet-ski simply cannot.”

Other life-saving organizations around the world are watching closely to see how the trial of unmanned aerial vehicles, typically more associated with taking lives than saving them, pans out, he said.