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> Rescue Helicopter for Perth Beaches, Shark Patrol
post Dec 12 2008, 05:38 PM
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Rescue Helicopter

The Western Australian Government has provided further protection for swimmers this summer through the new Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter service for Surf Life Saving Western Australia in Perth.

Premier Colin Barnett said the Liberal-National Government had provided additional funding of $110,000 to Surf Life Saving Western Australia (SLSWA), enabling additional flying time for helicopter shark surveillance and response to shark activity along Perth beaches.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter will commence operations for the SLSWA Saturday December 6, operating each weekend and public holiday throughout the summer months.

“In past years, aerial shark surveillance patrols by fixed-wing aircraft have been part of the overall strategy to minimise the risk of shark attacks at our beaches,” Mr Barnett said. “This year, we will still be responding to shark activity or sightings at Perth beaches, using the Surf Lifesaving WA helicopter to assess situations.” Earlier this year the Shark Hazard Committee, which has the job of assessing the effectiveness of shark hazard mitigation strategies, recommended a change from fixed-wing aircraft to helicopter to improve beach safety services to the community. “We all know how successfully media choppers have been able to find sharks, sighted near our beaches,” the Premier said. “Manoeuvrability and good viewing options for the crew on the Surf Lifesaving helicopter will provide the same opportunities in this dedicated service for Perth beaches. “Helicopters can fly at varying heights and hover to investigate and pinpoint locations with GPS technology.” The Shark Hazard Committee found helicopter surveillance was superior to fixed-wing patrols and the State Government put available funding towards a new mix of strategies providing an opportunity to work in partnership with Surf Lifesaving Western Australia in Perth, enabling that body to add shark hazard response to its range of beach safety services. Significantly, the patrol helicopter will be able to respond and provide assistance to surf lifesavers in a far greater range of situations, including shark monitoring and responses to shark sightings, which will form part of the wider range of patrol activities.

Mr Barnett thanked Edith Cowan University educators, student pilots and observers for their work on previous fixed-wing patrols.

Ben, Skype "Perth-", Western Australia
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