Australia

Patrol back in the sky

Surf Life Saving WAs Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopters will be back in the skies over the South West as of September 1 as the service kicks off for the 2018-19 season.

Last season, saw helicopters remain in the air until May 27, performing nearly 1000 patrol hours across more than 630 patrols and recording more than 500 shark sightings.

Initial early season patrols will see the helicopters operate over weekends, switching to daily across the September school holidays for the South West service.

SLSWA general manager Chris Peck said with volunteer lifesaver beach patrols not commencing until October, the helicopters provided an important surveillance tool to spot not only potential dangers from marine life, but also conditions such as rips.

“Historically spring is one of the busiest times of the year on our coast when it comes to rescues, as many people head to the beach after the winter break,” he said.

“The swell is generally bigger than experienced over summer which can facilitate the presence of dangerous rip currents.”

While the helicopter patrols certainly add an element of safety, SLSWA continues to encourage beach goers to be aware of potential dangers and to make informed decisions before heading to the beach.

This can include accessing a number of resources including SLSWAs twitter account @slswa for current warnings around shark sightings, beach closures, and other potentially dangerous conditions.

Viewing live vision from many popular beaches can be accessed via beach cameras hosted on the SLSWA website at mybeach.com.au.

Last season the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service made 266 patrols in the South West over 441 hours, travelling 48,992 kilometres in total.

The helicopter prevented 2177 people from being harmed in the South West surf, made 314 shark sightings, sounding the helicopter alarm 53 times.

The helicopter will operate on weekends from September 1 to September 23, then everyday during the school holidays from September 24 to October 7.

From October 13, the helicopter will go back to weekend patrols only until November 19 when it will resume daily flights until February 3.

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