Aerial surveillance to help spot danger along popular beaches is making waves in Secret Harbour.
Since implementing the technology more than two years ago, Secret Harbour Surf Live Saving Club president Rick Lowe said lifesavers had received strong feedback that drone patrols made beachgoers feel safer.
In December, several clubs around Western Australian followed in their footsteps thanks to fresh support from Westpac.
Partnering with Surf Life Saving Australia, the company has helped to roll out 51 Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drones across the country.
Equipping surf lifesavers with accurate aerial vision and surveillance technology, the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drones can be rapidly deployed and relay vision with pin-point accuracy to spot rips, marine creatures, and distressed swimmers.
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drone program will be Australia’s first comprehensive national approach to surf rescue using innovative drone technology, giving surf lifesavers more eyes in the sky at patrolled beaches around the country.
Mr Lowe said ongoing support from sponsors, like Westpac, was a positive step forward in increasing the technology state-wide.
Mr Lowe said he would like to see another patrol drone above local beaches in the coming years.
The club has six qualified drone pilots and is looking to certify more in the coming months.
“We’re building up our number of members who want to be pilots,” he said.
“When the course becomes available, we’ll get more pilots so we’ll be able to rotate easily. The idea is to have one dedicated person on every patrol. We’ve got a lot of interest.”
While there is a traditional idea of a volunteer sitting at the beach helping with patrols, Mr Lowe said drones enabled people who may not be physically capable to join in.
“Some people may not be the best swimmers but this way they can still contribute to life-saving by becoming a drone pilot,” he said.
“It's inclusive. It’s just another opportunity for people to get involved.”
It's inclusive. Some people may not be the best swimmers but this way they can still contribute to life-saving by becoming a drone pilot.Secret Harbour Surf Live Saving Club president Rick Lowe
With over 730 coastal rescues and 60,900 preventative actions undertaken by SLSWA in the 2017/18 season, the Westpac Life Saver Drone program will enhance Surf Life Saving’s capacity to deliver critical response surveillance when needed.
Westpac's south-central regional manager Amy Davison and Port Kennedy manager James Dallimore were on hand at the Secret Harbour Surf Live Saving Club to show off the latest drone model on Saturday.
Ms Davison said it was great to be a part of the national roadshow to local clubs and it was great Westpac was showing support through the program.
“We had a lady come up to us and say thank you for the great work and that it was nice to have that kind of safety. There are seven [Westpac drones] in WA, which is fantastic,” Ms Davison said.
“It’s amazing how technology is advancing across almost every industry, even on the beach.”
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