Drone ready and able to help with rescues in Wrightsville Beach


WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — From the air to the water, it’s a way to save swimmers at the beach. Wrightsville Beach Fire Department is testing the possibilities of using a drone to deliver life vests to struggling swimmers.

Each time swimmers hit the beach, Wrightsville Beach Fire Crews say they are ready.

“We’re fortunate here at Wrightsville Beach that we do have a full ocean rescue or lifeguard organization. They’re only out there from roughly 10am to 5pm, so a lot of drownings or distressed swimmers will occur earlier in the mornings or later in the evenings. So this is an option for us to utilize or get to that distressed swimmer quicker,” Wrightsville Beach Fire Department UAV division lead Sam Proffitt said.

The option is coming from above. Proffitt says they began using drones to help cut down response times from the station and it has helped locate victims during search and rescues and also keeping an eye on the rescuers as well.

“Everyone seems to be very excited about it. I mean it’s very new technology. It’s still a lot to be proven and kind of what we’re doing out here still in a lot of ways is very archaic. But I think it shows that the future’s going to be great,” Proffitt said.

He also says the drone can travel up to three miles away from where it is launched, making any kind of water rescue in the future a possibility. They just need to work out some of the technical difficulties before it gets the green light.

“We’re still looking at avenues and ways to update our air-frames here, software, things of that nature,” Proffitt said.

But many people in Wrighstville Beach says its the wave of the future.

“I think that definitely puts me at ease with like, especially when I have little kids out with me. I definitely would like extra eyes on them when they go farther out. So I think it’s a great idea,” Wrightsville Beach resident Ashley Clark said.

The fire department is still in the phase of testing these newer rescue operations, but have had positive results so far from their field tests.

To see the full video from their test rescue, click here.

Categories: Local, New Hanover