The life of a 14-year-old boy struggling against a powerful tide off a beach in Valencia was saved earlier this month by a pioneering drone lifeguard service that was recently rolled out across Spanish beaches, its operators have said.
Just as the boy started to sink beneath the waves after getting caught in a powerful tide close to the beach in Port Sagunto, the drone used by the pioneering drone lifeguard service dropped a life vest into the sea that kept the teenager afloat until a physical lifeguard team arrived moments later with a jet ski.
Miguel Angel Pedrero, drone pilot for the Valencia-based firm that supplies the technology – General Drones – explained that the saving operation was a complicated maneuver because of the heavy waves and the bad shape of the kid, who had almost no energy to keep floating.
The boy, whose name wasn’t released, was later hospitalized since he had swallowed large amounts of water, but he was discharged 24 hours late.
General Drones, which now has more than 30 pilots and as many drones working with the lifeguards at 22 Spanish beaches, started supporting lifeguard staff in Spain in 2017 in Sagunto, a town just north of Valencia.
After the local council of Sagunto, a town just north of Valencia began trialing drones to support lifeguards in 2016, first in the world, the boy is one of several people who have been rescued.
The service reacts before lifeguards can physically reach the scene, providing rapid reaction support in the critical moments of a potential drowning that are vital in some cases.
According to an RTVE report, the drones can fly at 15 meters per second (50km/h) and can get lifejackets to victims in record time to save them from drowning in those essential first few minutes of a rescue.
According to the Royal Spanish Lifesaving and Rescue Federation, 140 beachgoers have died in Spain from accidental drowning in the first six months of 2022, 55 % more than in the same period last year.