New BEN signs give a boost to beach safety this summer

Nedlands ranger Jessica Bruce, parks supervisor Nathan Deery and Ben sign program coordinator Marion Massam with the sign at Swanbourne beach.
Nedlands ranger Jessica Bruce, parks supervisor Nathan Deery and Ben sign program coordinator Marion Massam with the sign at Swanbourne beach.

BEACH safety will be given a further boost this summer with more than 100 new Beach Emergency Numbers (BEN) signs to be in place by the end of the year.

The State Government’s BEN sign program started in December 2017, as an initiative of Rick Gerring, brother of Ben Gerring who lost his life after a shark bite incident at Mandurah in 2016.

At the time, there were concerns about emergency services locating the closest beach access point.

Each BEN sign has a unique code to help emergency services pinpoint exact locations and improve crucial response times for a range of potentially serious incidents.

This summer BEN signs will be installed in several cities including Mandurah.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has been working closely with eligible local government authorities and other stakeholders to rollout the program, with the goal of more than 1100 signs in place from Geraldton to Esperance.

To date, 27 of the 32 eligible local government authorities have been working to map sign locations and prepare grant applications.

The State Government is encouraging all Western Australians to take their sea sense (checking the SharkSmart website for shark activity, abiding by beach closures and warnings, finding the nearest patrolled beach or using a scientifically proven personal shark deterrent) to the beach this summer.

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said people could call triple zero in the event of an emergency and quote the BEN sign number with confidence emergency services would reach the destination as quickly as possible.