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Surf Life Saving Western Australia operates two Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopters, with the services providing coverage to the Perth metropolitan area and the South-West of WA.
About the Service
The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter was launched in December 2008 and is a service provided by Surf Life Saving Western Australia (SLSWA). The helicopter service is proudly supported by the State Government of Western Australia, Westpac, who have been supporters of Surf Life Saving for 40 years and the Roberts Family. Lifesaver 68 (VH-FOI) is named the ‘John Roberts AO’ in respect of the late Mr John Roberts, a respected Perth business identity and long-time supporter of Surf Life Saving. That support continues today through the Roberts Family’s ongoing support of the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter.
The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter that services the Perth metropolitan area is based at Rous Head in Fremantle. The Service performs coastal surveillance patrols of the greater Perth metropolitan area, all the way from Mandurah in the south to Yanchep in the north and responds to emergency incidents.
For the 2015/16 season, the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Fremantle will officially commence operations from 5 September 2015 to 30 April 2016.
South West Service
Driven by a changing ocean environment and with support of the WA State Government, SLSWA commenced helicopter surveillance operations in the South West at the end of 2011. This service is a part of the State Governments Shark Mitigation Strategy with a focus on providing coastal surveillance patrols on weekends, public holidays and school holiday periods.
The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Busselton will operate from 27 September 2015 to 30 April 2016.
The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopters are manned by paid and volunteer crew – which ensures a blend of experience to keep the operations safe – and an opportunity for lifesavers to transfer their skills from the beach to the air. The highly trained crews are on the lookout for people in distress, incidents on beaches, rip currents and marine life, including sharks. The crew are also capable of deplaning from the helicopter for rescue or basic first aid purposes. Meet our crew.
The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopters play a crucial role in coastal safety and identifying emergencies. One of the roles of these aerial patrols is to keep watch for sharks and other marine life. With the helicopters' manoeuvrability; good viewing options; ability to fly at varying heights and to hover over potential sightings, the shark spotting service is well equipped to protect beach goers. Both helicopters are fitted with GPS technology that can be used to pin point potential sightings; a public address / siren to alert swimmers; and the latest communication equipment to alert surf lifesavers on the beach, Water Police, the Department of Fisheries and relevant local government authorities. To see a great example of how the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopters detect sharks and warn beachgoers, check out this video of a Great White sighting as it swam towards a group of body boarders and swimmers.
Flight times and length of patrols will depend on a range of factors including weather conditions, tasking, beach usage and events and other environmental factors. The helicopters generally patrol for two – three hours per operational day; however, this will be determined by the factors listed above and flight times may vary from day to day.
Help our helicopter service
We've partnered with Everyday Hero, so supporting Surf Life Saving WA and our helicopters is now easier than ever. Everyday Hero allows you to create your own fundraising page to start supporting the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter service. Find out more.