Victorians receive more eyes in the sky this holiday season

A new helicopter is joining the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service (WLRHS) this Christmas thanks to the ongoing support of national Surf Life Saving Australia partner Westpac and the Victorian Government. 

“Lifesaver 31, our Airbus EC120 helicopter , will provide livestream footage and beach population data thanks to specialised surveillance software and cameras onboard.” said Liam Krige, LSV’s General Manager, Lifesaving Services. “This will assist Life Saving Victoria in keeping the public safe around water across the state.”  

It comes just as Victoria heads into a public holiday long weekend. The risk of drowning is 68% more on public holiday dates compared to dates that aren’t considered a public holiday. And of the drowning incidents that have occurred over the Christmas/Boxing Day period in previous years, 50% were men aged 25-44 years. 

“There have already been tragic drownings this summer as a sad reminder of the need to play it safe by the water, especially as Victorians have had fewer experiences around water this year during lockdown restrictions,” said Mr Krige“We’re pleased to have this additional resource available in the sky to further our drowning prevention mission.” 

Lifesaver 31 joins Lifesaver 30, a twin-engine Airbus H135 P2+ helicopter  with winch capability and forms the WLRHS in Victoria. The service will provide lifesaving patrols from the sky all through the busy Christmas and New Year period, including Christmas Day and Boxing Day. 

The volunteer WLRHS crew onboard are each highly trained and accomplished lifesavers and come from varied backgrounds, including paramedicine, geospatial mapping for Fire Rescue Victoria, Victoria Police, as well as medical students. Each has trained throughout the winter months, classed as essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The WLRHS is part of comprehensive lifesaving services offered by Life Saving Victoria across the state that includes a drone service in operation for coastal surveillance, lifeguards at high-risk locations, volunteer lifesavers at 57 Life Saving Clubs, Rescue Water Craft (RWC JetSki) service and Marine Search and Rescue teams in Portland and Waratah, all feeding information into the LSV State communications centre activated as the incident control hub. 

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