Ten years after the initial vision, Little Ripper Lifesaver was born…
In the immediate aftermath of the devastating hurricane Katrina that destroyed most of New Orleans in 2005,Kevin Weldon, the founder of Little Ripper Lifesaver, observed an unmanned drone helicopter flying along flooded streets searching for survivors. This was the first deployment of drones in a disaster and they were instrumental in helping to find some 5000 people, stranded and alive in their flooded homes. The unmanned drones sent pictures back to the Central Control which were then able to dispatch rescue teams to those in trouble.
Kevin, the founding president of International Lifesaving, immediately set about working on the possibility of developing a search and rescue service in Australia using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). After a decade of efforts, he was finally able to assemble the right people and resources to make it happen. The major turning point was the financial support of Westpac Banking Corporation for an initial six months’ trial along the NSW coast, initially utilizing military grade, single rotor unmanned helicopters.
And so Little Ripper Lifesaver was born.