REMOTE CONTROL DRONES TO THE RESCUE FOR DROWNING VICTIMS
According to the World Health Organization, drowning is one of the top 10 leading causes of death, with 372,000 people drowning each year. Marina operators and boat owners know that it’s imperative always to have a hand-thrown lifebuoy close at hand in case someone goes overboard. While there’s no substitute for that hand-thrown lifebuoy, new technology is emerging that could make water rescues safer and more efficient.
Several companies are introducing remote water rescue drones, while they may be cost-prohibitive for most boat owners at the moment, it could be a wise investment for marina operators to consider.
The rescue drones come in a wide variety of sizes with varying features. The smaller ones are useful for someone who’s fallen overboard within your line of sight but are too far away for the hand-thrown lifebuoy to reach. Guided with a handheld remote, some can even hold two people. A huge advantage of these drones is their speed. Some can reach top speeds of 15 knots, possibly giving a person who’s fallen overboard a much better chance of rescue.
These drones are mostly battery-powered, but a few are solar-powered as well. They are typically brightly colored and u-shaped with flashing lights or fog lights, which makes them especially helpful for rescues in bad weather or at night. There are even more powerful drones that have GPS tracking devices that can find someone up to 3 miles away.
It is important to note that while common sense seems to indicate that rescue drones would be useful tools, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Red Cross do not rate these devices. Additionally, we have found no official endorsement or recommendation of these types of devices from the agencies mentioned above.
When it comes to preventing drowning, every second counts, marina operators may want to make this investment for the safety of their members. Unfortunately, finding a retail provider of these products is difficult, making it nearly impossible to order just one or two units. The manufacturers are reluctant to sell single units, preferring to set up a potential consumer as a new distributor. We suggest marinas consider banding with one or more other marinas or with their local marina association to facilitate a larger order. Over time, as the drones become more popular, they will hopefully become mass-produced, and the price will drop significantly. Maybe someday, every marina will have a rescue drone to supplement their hand-thrown lifebuoy rescue devices.
Check out these videos of some rescue drones in action*:
*Maricorp US does not recommend or endorse any specific brand or model of any of the products mentioned.