“At least it’s summer in Australia,” I thought this morning while staring out my window at my frost-covered yard, wearing two sweaters, two pairs of socks, and cradling my second cup of hot coffee.
But though (like all of us right now I’m sure!) I crave the cheery presence of the July sun, I also recognize that with summer’s heat certainly come summer’s dangers. Last week, two boys in New South Wales tasted that danger when they ran into trouble in the waves off Lennox Beach. Thankfully, they were rescued by a 21st-century saviour — a drone — on its very first day of service with the beach’s lifeguards.
When bystanders saw the swimming boys in distress, they called the lifeguard station, which was located a kilometer away from the action. Instead of losing precious time battling the waves, the lifeguards fired up their Little Ripper Lifesaver, developed after company founder Kevin Weldon witnessed unmanned drone technology being used to locate and help people in the streets of New Orleans after Katrina.
Little Rippers are customizable with a variety of lifesaving technologies for land, snow, and sea; including defibrillators, thermal blankets, and automatically inflating floatation devices. The latter was dropped down to the two boys at Lennox Beach, when the operator used the drone’s camera to locate and help them after one minute.
The boys were able to catch hold of the floatation devices and swim themselves to shore. If they had been injured, or unconscious, the more traditional services of the lifeguarding team would also have been required.
Lifeguarding is a complicated calling with no room for error. It seems that the pairing of career and technology is perfect in this case, with the drone enhancing human skills rather than rendering them obsolete. Now, I just have to insert the obligatory joke about how everything in Australia will kill you — but not the ocean off Lennox Beach, thanks to the lifeguards and their drone! (and just for fun watch this video of kangaroos boxing in the middle of a quiet Australian street)