Surf rescue helicopters are patrolling Victorian beaches daily to keep a look out for sharks, rips and people in distress in the water this summer.
Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett said the helicopter rescue service, run by Life Saving Victoria, had already completed 50 patrols along Victoria’s coastline this summer.
A group of highly trained crews operate the two Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopters which scan the water for people in distress, boating accidents, rip currents and marine life such as sharks.
The choppers patrol the state’s coastline from Waratah Bay in South Gippsland to Apollo Bay in south-western Victoria.
Pilots can alert lifeguards on the ground and sound sirens from the air if they spot sharks swimming dangerously close to public beaches.
They can also support search and rescue operations for missing swimmers and boats, winch people to safety, and respond to distress signals sent by fishermen and other people who find themselves in trouble on the water.
The rescue helicopters have responded to 250 emergencies since the summer of 2009-10, including five incidents in the first week of 2016 alone.
Patrols are running daily during the peak summer period – from Christmas Eve until Australia Day - when thousands of holidaymakers head to Victoria’s beaches and coastal towns.
Life Saving Victoria operates the service on weekends and public holidays from mid-November until Easter.
Australian bank Westpac continues to support the important service by funding the lifesaving rescue helicopters.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett
"Surf life savers do an incredible on the ground and in the air to keep people safe. Make sure you swim on patrolled beaches and never swim alone. “
"Rips are dangerous and unpredictable. Have a plan, check for warning signs and know what you're going to do if you or your kids get caught in a rip."
"Thousands of people visit Victoria’s beautiful beaches each summer and we want everyone to stay safe around the water.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020