Western Australian Beaches To Have Over 1,000 Lifesaving Signs Installed

Western Australian Beaches To Have Over 1,000 Lifesaving Signs Installed

Western Australia Minister for Fisheries Dave Kelly

First Of More Than 1,000 Lifesaving Signs Installed At Western Australian Beaches

Victor P Taffa

  • Beach Emergency Numbers will help save vital time in critical incidents
  • More than 1,000 BEN signs are planned for Western Australia’s coast from Geraldton to Esperance
  • McGowan Government delivers on election promise to support local governments to improve beach safety

First of more than 1,000 lifesaving Beach Emergency Number (BEN) signs, funded by the McGowan Government, for the Western Australia coast have now been unveiled in the City of Kwinana and Shire of Waroona.

“I am delighted to be delivering this project initiated by Rick Gerring in honour of his brother Ben Gerring who tragically lost his life in 2016.” Minister for Fisheries Dave Kelly said.

“Time is critical in an emergency and could mean the difference between life and death. BEN signs will be vital for first responders to identify the quickest route to a precise location.”

At Wells Park in Kwinana today, Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly and Kwinana MLA Roger Cook were joined by Rick Gerring to reveal 1 of 9 signs for the Kwinana and Naval Base coast.

“BEN signs will enhance the safety of our beautiful beaches, providing locals and visitors with surety that prompt help is at hand in the event of an emergency, be it a shark bite, boating accident, drowning, violence or a heart attack.” Kwinana MLA Roger Cook said.

BEN signs are part of the McGowan Government’s election commitment to strengthen emergency responses should a serious incident occur. Each sign has a unique code, to help emergency services pinpoint exact beach access locations and improve crucial response times for a range of potential serious incidents.

Signs were initiated by Rick Gerring, the brother of Ben Gerring whose life was lost after a fatal shark attack in Falcon in 2016, after concerns about possible delays in attending emergency services trying to locate the closest beach access point.

“Installation of these signs will make an immense difference in an emergency.” Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke said.

McGowan Government has offered grants of up to $25,000 for eligible metropolitan councils, and up to $50,000 for eligible regional councils, to install the lifesaving signage.

Since the announcement of the program in December 2017, 29 of the 32 eligible local government authorities have expressed an interest in the signage, and 26 are actively working with the Western Australia Government.

“Using the BEN signs, the first people on the scene can relay the beach reference number with confidence emergency services know the exact location, reducing critical time in attending the scene.” Rick Gerring said.

“With the signs being standard along our coastline, it will mean people will instantly recognise them in the unfortunate event of an incident occurring and relieving unnecessary stress trying to communicate with emergency services.”

City of Kwinana is the first metropolitan council to install the lifesaving BEN signs through the McGowan Government’s grants scheme, while the Shire of Waroona is the first regional council with 3 BEN signs now in place at Preston Beach.

City of Mandurah independently installed 81 BEN signs in honour of Mr. Gerring in May 2017.

“Although nothing can ever bring my brother Ben back, knowing that the BEN signage will save many lives gives me some closure and a legacy that will never be forgotten.” Rick Gerring said.

These lifesaving BEN signs complement the McGowan Government’s comprehensive shark mitigation strategy. This strategy includes:

  • Funding for Surf Life Saving Western Australia beach helicopter and drone patrols,
  • World-first personal shark deterrent subsidy for divers and surfers,
  • Beach enclosures,
  • Extended Shark Monitoring Network to Esperance,
  • Tagging operations,
  • New SMART drumline trial off Gracetown.

 

Abbreviations:

SMART          Shark-Management-Alert-In-Real-Time