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Australia reports what is believed to be the first ever use of drones in an emergency rescue of swimmers. A New South Wales veteran lifeguard was piloting the drone as part of a training exercise to familiarize the lifeguard staff with the device.

This training exercise was created to get lifeguard staff familiar with the so-called "Little Ripper" drone, which is part of the NSW government's $16 million plan to help mitigate the risk of shark attacks.

Any other day, reaching the teenagers could easily have taken three times as long.

The boys were the lucky that the 2017 NSW Lifeguard of the Year, Jai Sheridan, happened to be there running the drone class and immediately launched the "Little Ripper" drone towards them.

The drone filmed the moment it flew above the teenagers before dropping an inflatable device which landed nearly within arm's reach. The clip then shows the drone drop the bright-yellow rescue device, which self-inflates when it hits the water.

The Little Ripper drone was sent to the rescue of the boys, aged 16 and 17, after they became trapped in 10ft waves in the rough seas of Lennox Head, New South Wales.

The NSW Government invested $430,000 in a fleet of rescue drones in December.

Government officials called the incident a "world first", local media reported, adding that it was also significantly quicker to get to the location using a drone.

"This was an extraordinary rescue with the very best outcome", he said to The Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently, it took just over a minute - 70 seconds - to launch the drone, reach the swimmers and drop the float.

Mr Morton said the drones gave surf lifesavers a new advantage.


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