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HomeLatest NewsNew emergency beacons for the Beaches

New emergency beacons for the Beaches

Emergency response beacons will be installed at two new Northern Beaches locations, following a number of incidents, deaths, and near-drownings over the last few years.

Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib joined Chief Executive of Surf Life Saving NSW Steve Pearce at Shelly Beach yesterday morning, 17 March to announce the plan, which will roll out to eight other locations across NSW this year and a total of 32 locations over the next four.

The beacons, referred to as 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 can drastically reduce response times, particularly in unpatrolled or isolated areas.

The press conference was held at Shelly Beach because it already has an emergency response beacon to demonstrate, which is in frequent use.

Chief Executive SLS Steve Pearce

Given the number of emergencies in the area, including the drowning of a snorkelling honeymooner earlier this year, Manly Observer asked Mr Pearce if active patrols could also be stationed at busy Shelly Beach.

“We’ve had a number of unfortunate incidences in this area, including a drowning in the beginning of the year,” Editor Kim Smee began. “We have the emergency beacon here, but would you, if you had the funds, prefer to have people here actively patrolling?”

“It’s a great question. And obviously we are working closely with Northern Beaches Council. They also provide lifeguarding services,” responded Mr Pearce.  “But because Manly surf club is only under a minute response time away, we feel that the emergency response beacon here gives us that early notification, but what we have done with the support of the NSW government, we have procured…new jet skis as well as rolled out additional rescue equipment for the surf club. So we do roving patrols that come around here as well, so we always have a presence on water for that immediate response.”

Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib announced that the new beacons would be installed at unpatrolled Turimetta Beach as well as North Palm Beach.  There have been a number of community-led rescues at Turimetta since early October last year.  A year earlier a rock fisherman died when he was swept off the rocks.

Chief Executive SLS Steve Pearce with an emergency rescue beacon at Shelly Beach.

Most drownings occur in unpatrolled beaches.

North Palm Beach is patrolled but is a very long stretch and leads into Barrenjoey Headland, another common location for emergencies.

“What we have been seeing is that these beacons are often used for non water-based emergencies, like a cardiac arrest on a run, a broken leg or bite,” Mr Pearce said.

Lifesavers from Palm Beach and North Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Clubs (SLSCs) responded to an emergency just this weekend, pulling two exhausted men in their late 20s from the water. One of the men was reportedly in relatively good condition, but the other was semiconscious and vomiting up water.

Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib at Shelly Beach today, 17 March 2024. Photo: Kim Smee / Manly Observer

The expansion of emergency response infrastructure comes after the Minister Dib convened a roundtable on coastal safety earlier this month, in response to an increase in coastal drownings over recent years.

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

“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.”

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

Kim Smee, Editor

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