- BEN signs play a vital role when WA beachgoers need emergency assistance
- Unique codes allow emergency services to pinpoint where help is needed
- BEN signs are mapped on the SharkSmart website and SharkSmart WA app
More than 1500 Beach Emergency Number (BEN) signs have now been installed from Western Australia's South Coast to the Mid-West, with plans to establish more further north.
Initially implemented by the City of Mandurah, the idea was sparked by Rick Gerring whose brother Ben was fatally injured by a shark in 2016. The McGowan Government then took on the concept, giving grants to local governments along WA's coast to install the signs.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has since worked with 36 Local Government Authorities (LGAs) to install 1500 BEN signs, including 582 along the Perth coast and 918 on the South-West and South Coasts, with more planned in the future.
DPIRD has also been working with 12 coastal LGAs in the North-West, where the Shires of Chapman Valley, Northampton and Ashburton have led the charge by installing 15 BEN signs so far. Planning for more than 300 other BEN sign locations is currently underway, mostly in the North-West.
BEN signs have already helped more than 600 people who have called triple zero for WA Police assistance, while St John Ambulance has received more than 880 requests for ambulance support which referenced BEN sign numbers.
Earlier this month, BEN sign BSN870 was used to call for ambulance and police assistance after two people were swept off the rocks at Wyadup Beach, near Yallingup. They were airlifted to hospital after being rescued by four people who witnessed the incident.
Callers often use BEN signs to report shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600, making surf lifesavers and beachgoers aware of shark activity.
Comments attributed to Fisheries Minister Don Punch:
"I'm proud to announce today this important milestone for the vital BEN signs project.
"Becoming familiar with BEN signs at your favourite beaches could be lifesaving.
"The unique code helps emergency services pinpoint where they need to send help, saving precious time in an emergency.
"In an emergency, dial triple zero, quote the code and location details from the BEN sign nearest to you and, if possible, have someone wait at the sign until emergency crews arrive.
Minister's office - 6552 6900