Volusia County Beach Safety considering using drones for search and rescue

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — Volusia County Beach Safety lifeguards have rescued nearly 400 people from the water just since Saturday.

Now, they’re considering adding drones to the tools they use to help keep beachgoers safe.

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Beach Safety already uses drones primarily to help find missing children on the beach, or help give lifeguards a handle on crowds.

However, in the future, they say they may be used to help locate swimmers caught in rip currents.

Today is the last day of Beach Safety Week! Most importantly, ALWAYS SWIM NEAR A LIFEGUARD! •Keep note of all posted signs and condition flags. •Fill in all holes that you’ve dug •Pick up all trash and belongings •Download the Volusia Beaches app for all beach information and updates! Thank you for all the support! Have a safe and sunny Memorial Day! #nationalbeachsafetyweek #Volusiabeaches #USLA #unitedstateslifesavingassociation #beachsafetyweek

Posted by Volusia County Beaches on Sunday, May 29, 2022

Beach Safety Technology Manager Chris Dembinsky says the department has four drones and 11 drone operators.

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They’ve been using them for almost two years, mostly to monitor crowds and detect objects in the ocean.

“During the day, a lot of times we will use them offshore if we have an object that’s blown out, or if they have a bather with it,” Dembinsky said.

In the future, Dembinsky says they can use the thermal optics on the drone to help find missing swimmers, and potentially save lives.

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He says they also want to use the drones to help study rip currents to learn if they form in the same general locations, or if they have a tendency to move and why.

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