Drones now able to drop emergency floatation devices to keep swimmers safe in New York City

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Thursday, June 13, 2024
Drones now able to drop emergency floatation devices to keep swimmers safe in NYC
Kemberly Richardson gets an exclusive demonstration of the emergency floatation devices dropped by drones.

ROCKAWAY BEACH, Queens (WABC) -- First responders are expanding their use of drones to keep beachgoers safe this summer in New York City.

Starting this summer, rescuers will be able to drop emergency floatation devices to struggling swimmers with the help of the drones.

The new initiative is part of a multi-agency approach between the NYPD, FDNY and OEM.

"If a beachgoer is having any type of trouble staying above water, if they submerge in to the water, if they are caught in a riptide, if they need to be rescued, we can drop a tube -- as soon as it makes contact with water, it immediately opens up into a floatation device," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry.

The FDNY uses a different model to hover its drone over the Atlantic where is is able to carry out a wide range of missions like spotting sharks, helping to treat people with medical emergencies and much more.

"Mass casualty incidents, bags that have medical devices, radios, communication kits, we can drop a small fire extinguisher to a boat in distress," said FDNY Capt. Michael Leo.

Eyewitness News got an exclusive look at the drones at work at Rockaway Beach on Thursday and the simulation showed that for a swimmer who needs help, it can mean the difference between life and death.

"If I were panicking I think it would bring a little bit of comfort to me," swimmer Shamus McVicar said.

And the drones can serve other purposes all over the five boroughs.

"OEM shows up, we'll put the drone up for an overall picture while the fire department is focused on fire suppression and when the NYPD shows up, that's a second and third set of eyes in the sky," said Michael Kahlau with OEM.

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