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New technology and strategically positioned rescue equipment is making life easier for surf lifesavers responding to emergency callouts in the Batemans Bay area this season.

Surf Life Saving Far South Coast Duty Officer Anthony Bellette was driving past Corrigan’s Beach on Friday 25 October, when he spotted a boat that looked like it was having engine problems.

“The boat was very close to the rocks at Snapper Island. We have a UAV (drone) in the Duty Officer car so I pulled over and launched it to get a better look,” said Anthony.

As the UAV approached the vessel, Anthony could see the v-sheet being displayed off the side of the boat indicating they were in need of assistance. He immediately called SurfCom who contacted Marine Rescue and tasked the Batemans Bay SLSC callout team to launch their IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat).

Anthony kept the UAV, part of the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Drone program, in the air to monitor the two crew aboard the disabled boat.

In the meantime, a passing vessel stopped to assist and was able to tow the boat back to the Batemans Bay boat ramp at Hanging Rock. There were no injuries to the two onboard.

Anthony said the addition of UAVs to the Duty Officer vehicles has been helpful on a number of occasions,. “The UAVs are the best way for us to respond quickly to incidents that might take up to 15 minutes to launch powercraft . Today was a great example of how efficiently we can identify and communicate during incidents to get the most appropriate assets deployed.”

This incident was also the first time the new Batemans Bay Support Operations storage facility was utilised. Thanks to the generosity of local businesses, a container has been positioned centrally at the Batemans Bay Marina which houses rapid response rescue equipment including an IRB, allowing callout teams to respond more quickly to incidents north of town and around the river.

“The IRB used today was taken from this new facility,” said Anthony. “It’s great for quick access and will now cut up to 30 minutes from response times to after hours emergency situations,” said Anthony.

The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Drone program operates at 25 locations and has trained 300 pilots across NSW. It is the first comprehensive national approach to surf rescue using innovative drone technology. The drones have given surf lifesavers the ability to have eyes in the sky to improve beach surveillance, increase rescue response time, and decrease risks to members.


Saturday 26 October 2019