As part of Water Safety Week, the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter toured Northern Victoria to deliver important water safety messages to Mildura Primary School, Swan Hill North Primary School and Kennington Primary School today.
“My dream job is to become a helicopter pilot, so seeing how the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter lands and takes off was amazing – as well as hearing how much it costs and how with Westpac’s support it’s always been a free service for people being saved,” says Aryan Shujaee, in Grade 4 at Mildura Primary School, who swims in the local wave pools and canoes down the Murray River in his spare time.
“I also learnt that you need to wear a colour that can be seen, so you can be saved. I felt so grateful to the crew for coming to our school,” says Aryan.
“The best thing for me was hearing all the facts about the helicopter, as well as the water safety messages,” says Aaron Cheng, aged 11 from Kennington Primary School. “Once, I got caught in a rip at a beach in Queensland. There were no lifeguards, but luckily my dad heard me and saved me. It taught me that water isn’t as pretty as it looks and can be really dangerous – you need to always swim between the flags at a patrolled beach. We’re going on a beach holiday in Queensland soon, so after today I will be even more prepared!”
It was a particularly timely reminder for the regional Victorian communities, as they head into summer, because inland waterways were announced as the number one drowning location (42% of the total drowning deaths) in the Victorian Drowning Report 2017, which was released on Monday, December 4th.
This new research, coupled with the fact the Murray River (which runs along Mildura and Swan Hill) has again being named the number one inland waterway drowning blackspot across the country, shows the need for local communities to hear key safety information about inland waterways, delivered as part of the Respect the River program and supported by the Australian Government.
“We aim to help raise awareness around the need to play it safe by the water and to exercise caution when recreating around local waterways over the holiday season,” says LSV’s Manager of Operations, Greg Scott, who attended each event. “The helicopter crew are ideally placed to give the water safety messages because they are all also highly experienced lifesavers.”
Responding to many emergencies every year, the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter plays a vital role in patrolling Victoria’s busy coastline, as well as providing valuable back-up support for other state emergencies and search and rescue (SAR) operations. The service is available year-round to assist in any emergency, including those in inland locations
Funded by the generous support of Westpac, local branch managers also attended the events, giving out special Westpac Rescue Rashie’s™ to the students. These are a sun-safe rash shirt printed with CPR instructions for children aged two to eight, developed in partnership with paediatric CPR training experts, CPR Kids.
“It is essential that children understand that even though waterways look inviting, they pose many dangers,” says Mr Scott. “If we’re able to get our safety messages through to the children, that’s less lives at risk, and makes our trip well worthwhile.”
Watch the Kennington Primary School students do a special sign language thank you to the crew: Helicopter Crew Thank You Video WSW2017