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Remote-control 'lifeguards' could be closer than expected

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Aug, 8, 2012: Misquamicut, R.I., Fire Chief Louis Misto, left, holds a line attached to the EMILY remote-control lifesaving device as it propels itself in the water and away from the shore at Old Town Beach, in Westerly, R.I. (AP)

A new and relatively inexpensive device could change the way you think about lifeguards.

EMILY is the acronym for a new remote-controlled lifeguard. It stands for Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard.

It's a small watercraft fitted with a flotation device and can go up to 22 mph, allowing it to get to people more quickly, and in some cases more safely, than any human.

It's being used by a handful of communities, including in Los Angeles County, home of the lifeguards made famous by the TV series "Baywatch."

If a swimmer is struggling, a lifeguard or anyone else can put EMILY in the water and send it through even rough waves with the help of a remote control.

EMILY made its first rescue last month when it saved a father and son in Oregon.