Tuesday, April 23, 2024

New ERBs in the swim for NSW beaches

The NSW Government has announced plans to install 10 new Emergency Response Beacons (ERBs) in key coastal locations this year.

The expansion of emergency response infrastructure comes after NSW Minister for Emergency Services, Jihad Dib, convened a roundtable on coastal safety earlier this month, in response to an increase in coastal drownings.

“Emergency Response Beacons are already being used successfully in coastal locations, including at Forster this summer when a beacon was instrumental in supporting the rescue of individuals caught in a rip current,” said Minister Dib.

“The evidence is clear – this technology works, and we know it will make a key contribution to preventing drownings on our coastline.

“The beacons use technology that overcomes connectivity limitations, or ‘black spots’, in remote areas, providing a reliable option in an emergency.

“A day at the beach shouldn’t turn into a disaster, and this is one of several measures the NSW Government is taking to help ensure more people get home safely.”

ERBs directly connect callers to Surf Life Saving NSW’s State Operations Centre, enabling the rapid deployment of lifesaving and emergency services to a potential rescue site.

This year, at least 10 new ERB units will be operational at the following locations, subject to council or land manager approvals:

  • Mid North Coast: Scotts Head;
  • Central Coast: Spoon Bay, Fraser Park, Forresters Beach;
  • Hunter: Moonee Beach;
  • Northern Beaches: Turrimetta, North Palm Beach;
  • Illawarra: Austinmer, Woonoona, Bulli.

The new beacons, which are the first of 32 to be delivered over the next four years, are part of the NSW Government’s record $23 million additional investment in Surf Life Saving NSW.

The roundtable held in early March considered the latest data on high risk drowning locations along the state’s coastline, with the locations of the new ERBs based on this data, rescue statistics and consultation with key stakeholders.

“We currently have 32 ERBs positioned along the coast, and they are proving their worth in allowing the public to immediately alert us to incidents and emergencies,” said Chief Executive of Surf Life Saving NSW, Steve Pearce.

“We are looking at enhancements to the next generation of ERBs which could include having public rescue equipment attached to the units that people could use to keep themselves safe if they attempt a rescue.

“It’s all about using technology to improve how we respond to coastal incidents and, in the end, save more lives along the coast,” he said.

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