The Mobile Police Department in Alabama has developed a drone rescue kit that can deliver a floatation device to swimmers in distress, and help stabilize them until a swim team can reach their location. What makes this “Float Responder” aquatic rescue drone even more special is the fact that it has been designed to honor the memory of a first responder who died during a surf rescue earlier this year.
Baldwin County Sheriff Deputy Bill Smith died from accidental drowning while attempting to save a teenager in the Gulf of Mexico on June 6. After handing over a portable flotation device to the distressed teenager, Deputy Smith got rolled into a dangerous surf and taken to the bottom. When two jet skis arrived at the scene with Gulf Shores police and the US Coast Guard to assist in the rescue, they found Smith, 57, “floating on the top of the water.”
Now, the City of Mobile has presented a beach drone rescue kit to Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office in Smith’s memory.
Sheriff Hoss Mack, who was on hand to accept the drone kit in Smith’s name, recalled his deputy’s heroism saying:
When Bill Smith entered the water that day, he had one thing on his mind. And we know that, because we’ve listened to the recordings from his dash camera prior to entering the water. And that was, to save a human life. And he did that. He saved a human life that day. But unfortunately, he lost his in doing that.
Commander Kevin Levy of the Gulf Coast Technology Center, the mastermind behind the creation, added:
We came up with the idea relatively quickly after we saw the need. Most of the time was really spent ensuring that it operates the way it’s supposed to, because what we don’t want to do is give someone a false sense of security.
The beach rescue drone kit costs less than $5,000. It’s worth noting that Levy’s unit has already trained several Baldwin deputies in how to use the drone kit that would potentially allow them to save a life without risking theirs.
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