• Conference Secretariat 07 5502 2068
  • sar@anzdmc.com.au

The 4th annual Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference will be held on Wednesday 23rd May 2018 at the Star Gold Coast. 

Mr Edward Bennet, CEO & Chief Remote Pilot with the Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver joins us at the Conference to present ‘Drones in SAR. The Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver journey from an idea to completing the world’s first drone rescue’.

Mr Edward Bennet


In 2005 the founder of Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver first saw drones used in the Hurricane Katrina response in New Orleans. As the founding President of International Lifesaving, he became convinced that drones could help with saving of lives in the wider community.

In 2015, after years of pursuing this idea he met with the CEO of Westpac Bank about drones. In 1973 he had been instrumental in the introduction of the Wales Bank SLSA Helicopter Surf Rescue Service (now Westpac).

In February 2016, Westpac Bank officially announced their partnership with Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver to introduce this new technology into aviation rescue following their long running support for the helicopter service.

A partnership commenced with Surf Life Saving NSW to complete a 3 stage introduction of the technology into lifesaving.

Stage one involved trialling the technology. During this first 12 month period it was quickly determined that no off the shelf solution existed for drones in SAR. Key criteria were identifying a suitable drone, camera and payload delivery system, development of rescue pods, a SAR training program and identifying and training suitable pilots – all having to have a high level of assurance in time critical situations.

Stage two in 2017 saw an operational trial commence across several locations in NSW.

Stage three in late 2017 saw the service commence operations integrated into core services of Lifesaving at multiple locations across NSW. In January 2018 as a result of combined efforts of Westpac Little Ripper, Surf Life Saving NSW and additional funding from NSW State Government, Department of Primary Industries the world’s first rescue by a drone of 2 swimmers in distress in dangerous surf was completed at Lennox Head, NSW.

The service now operates at several locations across Queensland and has attracted worldwide interest for capability and training.


Eddie is the CEO and Chief Remote Pilot for Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver and has over 35 years’ experience in SAR, public safety, law enforcement, disaster management and emergency response roles. He has received the ILS Citation of Merit, Australian Bravery Medal, Australian National Sea Safety Award, National Meritorious Service Medal, National Emergency Response Medal, National Police Service Medal and Police Ethical and Diligent Service Medal. Eddie holds a Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management and Diplomas in SAR, Public Safety, WH&S, Security and Risk Management, Government Investigations and Fraud Control. He is a qualified Justice of the Peace.

For information on the upcoming 2018 Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference please visit the conference website.




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