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Lifesaving technology designed to keep a watchful eye over beachgoers across Port Macquarie is proving itself in unexpected ways, including helping monitor a coastal bushfire this week.

On Monday afternoon at around 2pm Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) Supervisor James Turnham, who was working at Lighthouse beach, saw smoke rising at adjacent Miners Beach.

The Port Macquarie lifeguards were issued a drone in September as part of the NSW Government's Shark Drone trials, to help increase safety, coverage and confidence on beaches this summer. 

Turnham and his fellow lifeguards raced to the scene of the bushfire to offer their assistance to emergency services. Within minutes they were airborne and flying over Sea Acres National Park with their Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

Thanks to their onboard camera designed to spot hazards in the ocean they were able to perform a 15-minute-flight to help see if there were any people stranded on the trail paths.

The lifeguards were also able to spot the location of the fire with the intelligence used by the police and fire brigade to plan their response.

Fortunately, the fire didn’t threaten any lives or property and was brought under control by the emergency responders.

“Drone technology is rapidly evolving and it’s encouraging to know that the equipment we fly has uses far beyond the beach,” said James Turnham.

“We have a good relationship with the other emergency services in the local region and we were delighted we were able to help out,” he concluded. 


Wednesday 3 October 2018