While Victoria’s 57 volunteer lifesaving clubs have taken down the red and yellow flags until season 2021-22, the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service will still be on standby ready to help as required.
This wouldn’t be possible without our incredible team of pilots and crew members, including Jack Slykhuis.
As a WLRHS crew member and LSV State Service Efficiency and Standards Officer, Jack was part of the dedicated crew that undertook 15 helicopter winches across the state during the 2020-21 season.
“I’ve spent time performing the role of rescue crewman officer, basically the person at the bottom of the winch performing rescues,” Jack said.
“To see the relief in people’s eyes when you reach them is something that drives you.”
In season 2020-21, LSV expanded its capability in the skies with a second helicopter, Lifesaver 31, which became LSV’s eyes in the sky for better coordinated rescues and providing live imagery back to emergency services during incidents.
“It’s a gamechanger for us to be able to provide real-time information back to our control centre, both during critical incidents and for longer term mapping of environmental risks,” Jack explained.
“It helps us provide a comprehensive service and keep people safe in ways they might not realise.”
For example, Victoria’s wet summer season meant potential risks to water quality, so Lifesaver 31 kept watch for telltale signs such as sediment, discolouration, log displacement at points where rivers, creeks and drainage systems meet Port Phillip Bay’s beaches.
“It’s not widely known that LSV can now deliver this service, but its helping us to share important information with the community and build a more accurate safety assessment of our coastline as it changes day to day.
“Our team of volunteers and lifeguards have done an incredible job and worked hard throughout the patrol season to keep people safe and ensure they could enjoy everything our extraordinary waterways have to offer.”