When it comes to rescuing a panicking swimmer, every second counts. Lifeguards mentally urge victims to “hang on” as they rush through the heavy waters toward them. In such a scenario, if a drone flies above the distressed swimmer and drops a flotation device, it offers more than just hope for the victim to hold onto. This is exactly what Spain’s eastern coast has been witnessing these past few days.
Video footage released by Valencian Agency for Security and Emergency Response shows the successful drone rescue of three women who were caught in strong currents on two different shores off the Valencian coast.
These lifejacket-dropping drones were flown over water as part of an experimental surveillance program that hopes to reduce the number of summer drownings across 10 municipalities in Valencia.
Videos of beach rescue drones saving swimmers in Spain
In the first video, you see two swimmers struggling some 100 meters off the shore of Cullera. The second video, meanwhile, comes from a beach in Guardamar del Segura where a swimmer found herself struggling while being 150 meters away from the beach. Incidentally, both beaches had yellow-flag warnings in effect to indicate a presence of strong currents to swimmers.
According to Gabriela Bravo, the regional Minister of Justice, Interior and Public Administration, having drones on the beaches allows lifeguards to offer a faster response to people who are drowning. Says Bravo:
26 people have already died by drowning this year in our community. These are figures we cannot afford. Every life we save is worth the investment and therefore we will continue to use drones on our beaches. We are committed to both safe beaches and to investing in new technology to ensure that our security and rescue efforts are more effective.
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In addition to saving swimmers in distress, the Spanish government hopes to use drones as a preventive tool against drownings. This, Bravo explains, would be made possible by analyzing the data collected by surveillance drones:
These drones carry out daily monitoring services of the beaches and the situation of people who are at sea. In addition, they will provide very important daily information on wind speed, the quality and number of people who are at sea, and will make it easier for us to work with rescue and safety systems.
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