A pioneering drone rescue service deployed to Spanish beaches saved the life of a 14-year-old boy this month as he battled a powerful tide off a beach in Valencia, its operators said.
The drone dropped a life jacket into the sea which was able to keep the teenager afloat just as he began to sink beneath the waves, until a team of physical rescuers arrived moments later.
“When we arrived we saw a child in very poor condition, with almost no energy to keep floating, so I sent the life jacket on,” said Miguel Angel Pedrero, drone pilot for General Drones, the company that provides the technology. , told Reuters.
“Because of the strong waves, it was a complicated maneuver, but we finally managed to give him the vest and he was able to float until the rescuers reached him on the jet ski.”
Valencia-based General Drones began supporting Spanish lifeguard staff in 2017 in the town of Sagunto, just north of Valencia.
Today, more than 30 pilots and their drones work with lifeguards at 22 beaches across Spain, providing rapid reaction support in critical moments of a potential drowning before lifeguards can physically reach the scene.
“Those extra seconds are vital in some cases and also allow rescue teams to approach the person with more calm and caution,” Pedrero added.
After being rescued, the 14-year-old, who has not been identified, was sent to a local hospital after ambulance staff provided him with oxygen. He was sent home 24 hours later.
A total of 140 people died from accidental drowning in Spain in the first six months of 2022, 55% more than in the same period of 2021, according to the Royal Spanish Federation of Rescue and rescue.
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