Drone Delays Air Rescue

Drone Delays Air Rescue

Drone delays air rescue of fisherman stranded on rocks in Gold Coast Seaway

Posted on 04.10.2018

Helicopter rescuers have had to wait for a drone to leave the skies above a boat accident before an injured fisherman could be winched to safety on the Gold Coast.

The 76-year-old angler was fishing in the Gold Coast Seaway around 9:00am when his boat’s anchor came loose and he was washed onto the seaway’s northern wall at South Stradbroke Island.

While he was just metres from dry ground, he was unable to exit the boat safely.

The Westpac Lifesaver rescue helicopter was on a training exercise in the area and landed on the seawall to assess the unfolding situation.

Crewman Tim Wilson said they were preparing to take off when they spotted a drone.

“We sighted a drone probably not more than 10 metres away from the helicopter, buzzing around filming everything that was going on,” he said.

“So obviously it grounded us for a little while — we didn’t know where the operator was so we had to wait until they moved off before we could do anything.”

While waiting for the drone to leave the area the patient remained trapped inside his aluminium runabout which was being battered by waves.

“He did get knocked around on the rocks a bit,” Mr Wilson said.

“We were lucky it wasn’t a life or death situation for him.

“A rescue that should have taken less than a couple of minutes made it last well over five minutes.”

The fisherman suffered cuts to his legs, and pre-existing hip problems meant an aerial evacuation was the only option for rescuers.

The injured man was taken to the Gold Coast University Hospital in a stable condition.

“He was in good spirits, a bit shaken around,” Mr Wilson said.

Birds and drones can take down aircraft

Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) rules regarding the use of recreational drones are clear.

The CASA website states: “You must not fly your drone over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway [without prior approval].

Mr Wilson said the chopper rescue crew was not prepared to risk a collision with the unmanned aircraft.

“We didn’t want to put anyone else in danger, plus ourselves in the helicopter, if it had have impacted with us,” he said.

“Drones are quite small, smaller than two kilos … birds are small as well and they’ve taken down aircraft.”

He said drone operators needed to stay right away from helicopters, whether they were in the air or on the ground.

Drone registration push

CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said the incident was a close call for rescuers.

“This is an absolute textbook example of what not to do with your drone,” he said.

“It is your responsibility to keep your drone away from aircraft at all times.”

The pilot of the drone involved has not been found.

“A fine in this case would have been in excess of $1,000,” Mr Gibson said.

He said CASA was looking at a compulsory registration scheme to help identify drone operators who breached the regulations.

ABC News



Have a story to tell or news to share?

Let us know by Submitting a News Story

Discover Queensland

Explore all of Queensland’s adventures.

Start Exploring

What's On



Camp Cooby Holiday Programs

Summer Holiday Camps
Read more



Apex Camps Sunshine Coast Summer School Holiday Program

Apex Camps Sunshine Coast is hosting an exciting school holiday drop-off program for kids aged 5 to 17 years
Read more



Coast Club – Gold Coast

Get the kids active during the school holidays with an adventure on the Gold Coast Recreation Centre!
Read more

Latest News

Toowoomba RC Community Grants

Recognising the important contribution from sport and recreation community organisations

Read more
EOI for Ewen Maddock Dam Campsite

The former Camp Koongamoon site

Read more
National Obesity Strategy

Have your say CLOSES Sunday, 15 December 2019

Read more

Become a member

QORF welcomes applications for new Community and Green Circle Members from organisations and individuals involved in the outdoors

Learn More
Tail Lights by Georgina Pratten