Harry Smith, 14, at Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head, trained for three days to learn how to operate the surf lifesaving surveillance drone.
Harry Smith, 14, at Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head, trained for three days to learn how to operate the surf lifesaving surveillance drone. Alina Rylko

Beach WiFi technology to be rolled out for summer

NEW beach Wifi technology will be trialled at NSW beaches this summer in efforts to minimise incidents after a near record drowning toll last year.

It comes after new Surf lifesaving NSW data revealed forty-four people tragically drowned along the NSW coast in a year.

The figures are concerning for surf lifesavers and with the new patrol season just around the corner, water safety volunteers and professionals are looking to re-double efforts to reduce the drowning toll this year.

 

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"The near record drowning toll last year has our surf lifesavers on high alert and we are looking to new technology to assist us save lives this summer," SLSNSW CEO Steven Pearce said.

"We have begun rolling out new rescue equipment as part of a major funding package from the NSW Government, including additional jetskis and support operations vehicles.

"Combined with drones which are our eyes in sky, these increased surveillance and response measures will give our volunteers a big boost to their capability."

Additional technology measures being introduced this summer include Emergency Response Beacons at unpatrolled locations and a trial of Beach Wifi technology that will deliver safety information in a range of languages and real-time hazard warnings.

Emergency callouts also increased, with the SLSNSW State Operations Centre logging 625 requests for assistance from emergency services compared to 588 the year prior.

The data showed the total was a 22 per cent increase in coastal drowning deaths over the 2018-19 year and higher than the most recent ten-year average of 41.

Of the 44, drownings seven people drowned on the North Coast and five on the far North Coast.

There were increases in deaths related to diving/snorkelling and people drowning while they were attempting to rescue someone else.

The largest number of people drowned while swimming (34 per cent) and the second highest figures were attributed to rockfishing accidents (18 per cent).

"Despite the enhancements in equipment and capability of our lifesavers this season, we need people to take responsibility for their own safety wherever possible. Always swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags is still the best safety advice we can give," Mr Pearce said.

Full national statistics can be found in the Surf Life Saving National Coastal Safety Report 2019.