Local lifeguards will soon be able to keep swimmers even safer along our beaches thanks to the deployment of a new Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drone.
The deployment comes as a part of a new initiative between Westpac and Surf Life Saving Australia which will deliver Australia’s first national roll out of lifesaving drones.
25 drones will become operational in New South Wales over the next month, including one in Surf Life Saving NSW’s Lower North Coast branch, which covers beaches from Pacific Palms to Crowdy Head.
The drone will be used to assist patrols at Elizabeth Beach, One Mile Beach, Forster Main Beach, Black Head Beach, Old Bar Beach and Crowdy Head Beach.
Director of Life Saving for the Lower North Coast branch, Nathan De Rooy, believes the technology will be a valuable asset for lifeguards in the local area.
“It’s going to be really good for shark mitigation, as well as search and rescue situations,” he said.
Mr De Rooy was one of 12 local lifeguards selected to undergo drone pilot training at One Mile Beach and Lake Street Sporting Complex over the weekend of February 23 - 24.
The training covered everything from shark identification to maintenance and operations and will see the 12 participants become the branch’s designated drone operators.
“The operators will be put on an operational roster,” Mr De Rooy said.
Westpac Branch Manager for Forster, Dave Hill, said it was great to be associated with an initiative that could potentially save a lot of lives.
“While Westpac is a multinational corporation, the people who work in Forster are local people and anything we can do to help our local community, we’re humbled by,” he said.
Mr De Rooy was very appreciative of the contribution and admitted that without corporate sponsors like Westpac, the program wouldn’t be viable.
“The lifesaving kits are around five or six thousand per drone, which is a considerable cost,” he said.
According to Mr De Rooy, the drone will be fully operational from the start of April, with more rescue drones hopefully coming to the region in the future.
“Ideally it would be nice to have one per club,” he said.