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Pompano Beach Tests Drones To Aid Lifeguards In Saving Distressed Swimmers

Lifeguards may soon have a new tool at their disposal: drones. 

Pompano Beach Fire Rescue recently tested how drones might help save swimmers in distress. During a demonstration filmed for an NBC segment, officials used one drone to drop a life preserver to a person pretending to be in distress and another to provide the swimmer with a broadcast of the lifeguard’s deployment, the Sun Sentinel reported. 

The drone reached the swimmer about 20 seconds before the lifeguard did, and although it didn’t drop the life preserver immediately upon arrival—“a communication error on my part,” drone vendor Ben Richardson told the Sun Sentinel—“Today” show anchors commented on the potential of the technology in these situations

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Officials in Long Branch, New Jersey, are also recognizing the benefits.  

"In extreme conditions like red flag, big surf, high winds, where you normally have trouble getting out to someone, you would be able to use it," Dan George, the chief of Long Branch's beach patrol, told the Asbury Park Press.

Drones could also prove useful for other water-related dangers. 

Lifeguards at Seal Beach, California, recently began using drones to monitor shark activity in area waters, the Los Angeles Times reported. The drones can record up to 20 minutes of video footage with a range of 1.2 miles.  

Watch video of the drone demonstration in Pompano Beach, below: