Beacon To Save Lives At Fingal Spit

The Beacon at Fingal Spit has been commissioned – in attendance were Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib and Port Stehens MP Kate Washington, representatives from Surf Life Saving NSW and beachgoers.

FINGAL Spit is a beautiful natural asset that has proven itself to be deadly, claiming its 17th recorded victim in April this year.

In response to the dangers faced by swimmers at remote locations, the state government has rolled out a series of Emergency Response Beacons.

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Statistics had Fingal Island and Fingal Spit selected for new ERBs.

When every second can mean the difference between life and death, new ERBs will give visitors at unpatrolled beaches a link to lifesaving services during emergencies.

ERBs mean someone who might witness a coastal emergency can connect directly to the Surf Life Saving NSW state operations centre where the nearest lifesavers, lifeguards or other emergency service can be notified and activated to respond.

A camera fitted to the ERB can be remotely monitored by the operations centre to provide those on the ground information about the incident.

That information can then be shared with the local surf life saving team to respond, including deploying jet skis, inflatable rescue boats, volunteer callout teams from nearby surf clubs, lifeguards, helicopters and even drone services.

These life-saving beacons are solar powered and connect to the 4G network, which means they are online and powered up when needed.

Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib said, “Australia has some of the most enviable beaches in the world and who doesn’t love a beach vacation or a dip in the ocean on a sunny day?

“It is important to understand local conditions as they can change quickly, which is why it is always important to swim safely and within your abilities.

“But when things do go wrong, we want to make sure people on our beaches and our emergency services are best equipped to respond,” he said.

“These new beacons provide an extra set of eyes on the beach and will help live savers.”

Port Stephens MP Kate Washington said given the beauty of the area the ERBs were a welcome addition to the beaches.

“We know all too well how quickly disaster can strike and it is critical we have the tools in place to respond as quickly as possible,” she said.

“Our lifesavers and lifeguards can’t be everywhere at once, so these emergency beacons are about expanding the reach and making every effort to protect swimmers at unpatrolled locations so we can make sure only great memories are made when visiting our beaches.

“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 chief executive Steve Pearce.

“It’s going to really reduce response times and likely save many lives, whether [that’s a result of] swimming, rock fishing or boating incidents.”

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 because of erosion.

National Parks & Wildlife Service and local indigenous communities are pleased the new units will be lighter on the coastal environment.

“It is technology like this that we are proud to see rolling out, to ensure beach users across NSW are as safe as possible. This beacon will give residents and visitors some extra peace of mind that help is available if they get into trouble,” said Mr Pearce.


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