Standing tall at the Fingal Spit, two Emergency Response Beacons (ERB) now guard the deadly sand bar providing a vital lifeline on the otherwise unpatrolled shore.
Their installation follows campaigning by locals for better safety measures after the recent drownings of 17 people – the latest an elderly Sydney man over the Easter long weekend.
The ERB’s use the latest technology to connect someone witnessing a coastal emergency directly to the Surf Life Saving NSW State Operations Centre (SOC) where the operator can alert the nearest lifesavers, lifeguards or other emergency service.They’re solar powered and connect to the 4G network so there is no cabling involved in installation.
A camera fitted to the ERB can be remotely monitored by the SOC to provide operators with situational awareness of the incident. Surf Life Saving can then respond using a wide range of Support Operations assets, including jetskis, inflatable rescue boats, volunteer callout teams from surf clubs, lifeguards, or helicopter or drone services.
A significant innovation in the latest installations is the use of a far less invasive ground footing which allows the units to be removed easily in the case of instability due to erosion for example.
“The ERBs give visitors at unpatrolled beaches a link to lifesaving services during emergencies, where every second can mean the difference between life and death,” said Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce.
“It’s going to really reduce response times and likely save many lives, whether it’s swimming, rock fishing or boating incidents.”