26 September 2023

BEN’s beach numbers saving lives

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The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has announced that more than 1,500 Beach Emergency Number (BEN) signs have been installed along the South Coast to the Mid-West.

DPIRD said plans to establish more signs further north were in its hand.

Initially implemented by the City of Mandurah, the idea was sparked by Rick Gerring (pictured with one of the signs) whose brother, Ben was fatally injured by a shark in 2016.

DPIRD has since worked with 36 Local Government Authorities (LGAs) to install the BEN signs, including 582 along the Perth coast and 918 on the South-West and South Coasts, with more planned for the future.

The Department said BEN signs had already helped more than 600 people who called triple zero for WA Police assistance, while St John Ambulance received more than 880 requests for ambulance supports which referenced BEN sign numbers.

It said that in January, BEN sign BSN870 was used in a call for ambulance and police assistance after two people were swept off the rocks at Wyadup Beach, near Yallingup.

They were airlifted to hospital after being rescued by four people who witnessed the incident.

Callers often use BEN signs to report shark sightings to Water Police, making surf lifesavers and beachgoers aware of shark activity.

Minister for Fisheries, Don Punch said becoming familiar with BEN signs at your favourite beaches could be a life-saver.

“The unique code helps emergency services pinpoint where they need to send help, saving precious time in an emergency,” Mr Punch said.

“In an emergency, dial triple zero, quote the code and location details from the BEN sign nearest to you and, if possible, have someone wait at the sign until emergency crews arrive.”

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