Lifeguards test drone technology ahead of summer

Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) tested drone technology at North Stradbroke Island on Friday, November 18 ahead of the peak summer months.

SLSQ chief operating officer George Hill ESM said the ongoing trials would be looking at a wide range of factors including the safety, effectiveness and reliability of the equipment in patrol and aquatic search scenarios.

“It might sound like a cliché but every second counts when there’s a life on the line and, with that in mind, we’re always looking at techniques and technology to improve the response and reaction times of our lifesavers and lifeguards on the beach,” he said.

“We trialled drones rather extensively a few years ago, and at the time, the technology wasn’t where we needed it to be when it came to safety and reliability.

“However, since then, there have been significant advancements made within that space and we’re hoping that will be reflected in our trials on Friday,” he said.

If introduced, Mr Hill said that drone technology would only ever be used to complement existing services and could never replace lifesavers and lifeguards on the beach, nor the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service.

“The most important thing for us is the safety of our members, beachgoers, and the community,” Mr Hill said.

“It’s not going to be an overnight process; any drone technology would need to pass extensive safety trials before we would consider rolling it out across the state.

“We also need to consider if there’s sufficient funding and volunteer manpower which would enable us to introduce it as an additional service,” he said.

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