An industrious Far North Queenslander used a drone to fly his phone up into the air in order to send a message to save his stranded family from rising creek water.
On Monday night, four adults and a six-month-old baby had travelled to look at Blencoe Falls, a stunning waterfall in Queensland, reports the ABC.
By the time they’d travelled up a ridge to see the landmark, they noticed that the creek feeding the falls had swollen so they decided to turn back.
On the way back down, they realised that another creek had swamped the car — rendering it unable to be driven — and that they were trapped.
And they were unable to call for help because their phones had no reception.
Stranded, the group huddled in a tent as there were hundreds of millimetres of rain pouring down on them through the night.
Early in the morning, one of group had an idea: they couldn’t go to higher ground to seek phone reception — but what if they could elevate their mobile phone using a drone?
Queensland State Emergency Service area controller James Gegg said that the “unique” call for help was successful in drawing the attention of emergency services.
“He was clever enough to think that if he typed the message on his phone and pressed send that it would keep trying to send until it got reception,” Gegg said.
“When he brought [the drone] back down he confirmed the message had been sent, so he did get reception … that raised the alarm and people were able to activate.”
Once the SOS was received, it was still no mean feat to rescue the group. Numerous trees had come down at the bottom of the range which restricted access.
But emergency services were able to save the group using a front-end loader and chainsaws to create a path.
And while the drone helped save them this time (and is being used to help save people elsewhere too), Gegg recommended that people exploring remote areas use a personal locator beacon instead.
“They’re fairly inexpensive and they can get an emergency alert out very quickly with your exact GPS location,” he said.