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Moisés Jiménez, coordinator of the drone service, flies one of the drones on the beach in Fuengirola L. Cádiz
Beach safety

How drones are helping save lives on Fuengirola's beaches

Four remotely-controlled aircraft monitor the local coastline every day and work side-by-side with lifeguards on warnings and rescues

Lorena Cádiz

Fuengirola

Monday, 14 August 2023, 17:36

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Lifesaving drones have helped locate four missing children on the beaches of Fuengirola already this year. The innovative surveillance system, which involves four drones, monitors the entire stretch of coast in the Costa del Sol municipality.

A recent incident was solved within minutes. At the weekend, voices came through several transmitters warning of a 'November' incident, the code which refers to a missing person. It came to light that a two-year-old boy was missing and was last seen near Tango 5 (one of the lifeguard watchtowers) and wearing red swimming bathers. The drone controls were prepared and in just a couple of minutes the machine was already in the air looking for the child. The boy was soon found wandering on the beach. A few weeks ago it was a drone that located three children, after two hours of intense searching by land and air.

The drone service is managed by the company Aeromedia, contracted by Fuengirola town council, and works in constant coordination with the company in charge of lifeguarding on the beach, Socorrismo Malaga.

The remotely-conntrolled aircraft have their take-off and landing platforms at four different points along the coast of Fuengirola. As per protocol, the aircraft is flown every hour to do a sweep of the area and spot anything unusual. From the beach, the pilot can observe every detail of the image that the drone transmits. If he spots anything unusual, he immediately alerts the lifeguard service. If the lifeguards perceive anything out of the ordinary, they then request that the drone be sent to fly over the area.

Prevention

The drones intervene mostly in preventive cases, such as alerting jet ski users when they are operating in prohibited areas or not following the speed limit, or alerting bathers when they have drifted away from safe swimming areas.

But the drones also play a key role in rescue operations. Each drone is equipped to carry up to two life jackets, and a defibrillator in the event that an ambulance is not nearby.

Drone service and first aid personnel working together
Drone service and first aid personnel working together L. Cádiz

The drone is also equipped with a public address speaker system, so anyone who is conscious and in distress in the water can be spoken to. "We can ask them if they need help and even try to calm them down while the rescue team arrives," said Moisés Jiménez, coordinator of the Fuengirola rescue drone service.

This happened recently in Fuengirola. "The lifeguard alerted us to a lady who might be in distress, we put the drone in the air and when the pilot saw the woman he dropped a life jacket. The woman grabbed it quickly, and we immediately saw on the camera that there was a second lady in distress. They both grabbed the lifejacket, until seconds later when the lifeguard's jet ski arrived," the coordinator said.

"Drones are minimising the risks for many beach users and saving lives. We are a fundamental team," added Juan López and Francisco Molina, the director and coordinator of Socorrismo Malaga.

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