New beach signs aid Rottnest Island rescues

Two people stand beside a beach emergency number (BEN) sign. The sign features specific location advice in the event of an emergency.
Rottnest Island Nursing Post Nurse Practitioner Claire Parsons and Rottnest Island Authority Fire and Emergency Services Coordinator Brendon McLaughlin with the BEN sign at The Basin
April 20, 2021

Two families are very grateful their teenagers are home safe after they were involved in separate Rottnest Island rescues on the same evening during the April school holidays.

The 15 year olds, who were both unresponsive, had to be retrieved from the sand and by the roadside near the popular beach The Basin.

Rottnest Island Nursing Post (RINP) nurse practitioner, Claire Parsons, said the successful rescues were aided by newly installed Beach Emergency Numbering (BEN) signs.

“This was the first call to St John Ambulance from the island where the ‘000’ caller used the information detailed on the BEN sign at The Basin,” Claire said.

“As the nurse on the island overnight, it was with great relief that I was given clear direction as well as the assistance of local agencies so a good outcome could be achieved for both patients,” Claire said.

“The smooth rescues were also made possible due to the extensive assistance of the island’s Fire and Emergency Services Coordinator and members of the island’s volunteer fire and rescue brigade, along with WA Police.”

Following the death of a surfer from a fatal shark attack on a remote beach, the BEN signs have been rolled out across WA as part of a State Government grant initiative.

The rescues were part of a very busy period over the Easter long weekend and April school holidays.

“Despite no international tourism due to COVID-19, the island still had an occupancy rate of 89 - 99 per cent over the two weeks,” Claire said.

“By the end of the April school holidays, the RINP had been involved in 19 patient transfers to tertiary hospitals – more transfers than the entire month of April in previous years.”

The South Metropolitan Health Service, through Fiona Stanley Hospital, provides emergency response and primary healthcare services to Rottnest Island residents and visitors.

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