A pioneering lifeguard drone being used to patrol beaches in the Valencia regions has saved a 14-year-old from drowning.
A video shows how the boy was saved after he was caught in a rip tide off Sagunto beach.
Once the teenager was spotted in trouble, a drone was used to drop a life jacket that kept him afloat until lifeguards reach him by jetski moments later.
“When we arrived what we saw was a kid that was in very bad shape, with almost no energy to keep floating, so I sent over the life vest,” Miguel Angel Pedrero, a drone pilot for General Drones, told news agency Reuters.
“Because of the heavy waves it was a complicated manoeuvre, but we finally managed to give him the vest and he could float until the lifeguards reached him by jet ski.”
Some thirty drones are being used across the coast of the Valencia region in a pioneering scheme that was launched in 2017.
The drones can travel up to speeds of 85km an hour and work alongside human lifeguards patrolling popular swimming beaches during the summer season.
“These extra seconds are vital in some cases and also allows the rescue teams to approach the person more calmly and cautiously,” Pedrero added.
According to the Royal Spanish Lifesaving and Rescue Federation, 140 people died from drowning in Spain during the first six months of 2022 – 55% more than in the same period of 2021.
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