Lifeguards at Spanish Point beach to use drones

An Irish software start-up has teamed up with Clare County Council to aid lifeguard operations by using drones for automated beach patrols.

This is the first time drone technology has been used in this way in Ireland.

DroneSAR, developers of a new drone search and rescue app, are combining their expertise to allow lifeguards to deploy drones as their first response to monitor those in distress.

A drone pictured outside the lifeguard hut at Spanish Point.

DroneSAR’s flight-planning software allows drones to scan large areas from above, reduce risk to search and rescue personnel, shorten search times, and ultimately save lives.

In a recent study in Sweden, it took a 14-strong lifeguard team an average of 4 minutes 34 seconds to search and locate a manikin in a 100m by 100m area. The drone team, comprising one pilot and lifeguard, took an average of 47 seconds to search the same area.

Clare McGrath, Water Safety Development Officer, Clare County Council, said: “Our lifeguards are tasked with quick response times and do so over large distances. Fast detection is crucial in the Drowning Chain of Survival.

"DroneSAR’s flight management technology, will deliver key operational advantages for our counties beach lifeguard operations by enabling them to quickly search for missing, injured or get early notification of people in distress. Any piece of equipment that will allow a quicker dispatch time for ambulances, medical assistance and increased beach patrols will be a huge advantage,” she said.

The new partnership will see lifeguards in Spanish Point beach equipped with the most modern drone technology and the DroneSAR software. DroneSAR will provide the drones and Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) drone instructors to supervise the drone flights in the early stages.

A live-video downlink will enable the search pattern of each drone to be monitored by the lifeguard from the lifeguard hut. The Water Safety Development Officer can use the live browser secure link to remotely monitor search progress from any computer or laptop.

Oisin McGrath, DroneSAR CEO, said: “Lifeguard teams using DroneSAR will now be able to monitor live footage from the furthest reaches of their patrol areas, with instant access to call emergency services should the need arise. Drones can now be viewed as airborne lifeguards who cover large amounts of ground quickly and easily.

"As a past beach lifeguard, I am extremely excited about the endless possibilities that these trials will bring to the world of beach patrols,” he said.


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