Drones and emergency situations go well together, particularly when first responders need to locate people in need despite poor visibility and challenging terrain.
More often than not the applications we’ve seen involve mountain rescues, locating people who are lost, stranded or injured in the wilderness. This EENA and DJI SAR mission in Iceland is a good example of that. As are the recent findings from a search and rescue drone study from the same parties.
But an eye in the sky is also invaluable out at sea and along coastlines, where struggling swimmers can be difficult to spot among the waves.
In Australia, the Little Ripper Drone has already saved lives along the coast of New South Wales. Earlier this year lifeguards were able to respond to a distress call, locate swimmers in trouble and drop an inflatable from above – all within a matter of minutes.
With that said, it’s little surprise that public safety bodies elsewhere are looking at how drones can be used to support lifeguards. This week we’ve learned that officials in the city of Dubai are launching a similar project.
Lifeguard drones to begin beach patrols in Dubai
The city of Dubai has its own take on Little Ripper, the ‘Flying Rescuer’. Not quite as catchy, we’ll admit, but a stodgy name won’t stop it from saving lives. The drone will support first responders by locating struggling swimmers and is able to drop lifebuoys to keep them afloat while the ground team moves in.
Flying Rescuer has two cameras – presumably, one to scout for swimmers and another to help aim the inflatable drops. It can fly for 30 minutes at a time and withstand the hot summer temperatures that drive residents to the city’s beaches all year round.
Dubai’s Coastal Rescue and Safety System has carried out 2,139 rescues since its launch in 2016. 330 of these involved groups of multiple people. As well as being able to remotely drop life rafts and inflatable rings, the lifeguards can use the drone to speak to swimmers via a loudhailer.
Alia Al Harmoudi, Director of Environment Department at Dubai Municipality, says: “The drone can transport up to four rings to the drowning incident area, which can support up to eight drowning people at the same time. It can also be used with a rescue raft that automatically inflates when it touches the water instead of buoys to save several people at the same time.”
“The Flying Rescuer gives the initial response to drowning so that the human rescuers have access to the situation, which makes the rescue operations on holidays and weekends easier.”