Beach Emergency Number signs available for local governments

Rick Gerring near a Beach Emergency Number sign in Mandurah. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.
Rick Gerring near a Beach Emergency Number sign in Mandurah. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

The state government has begun installing over 1,000 Beach Emergency Number (BEN) signs to strengthen emergency responses in the event of a serious incident. 

Each sign has a unique code, to help emergency services pinpoint the location to access the beach, improving response times. 

Esperance Shire director of asset management Mathew Walker said the shire was currently in the process of applying for the grant.

“This requires us to identify appropriate locations along our coastline (which we have completed), these locations then need to be tested by the State and St John’s, which we are currently in the process of doing,” he said. 

“We are hopeful to have the signs up by December this year.”

The signs are an initiative by Rick Gerring, the brother of Ben Gerring who lost his life following a fatal shark attack in 2016.

The state government is offering grants of up to $50,000 for eligible regional councils and $25,000 for eligible metropolitan councils to install the signs.

Since the announcement of the program in December 2017, 29 of the 32 eligible local governments have expressed an interest in the signage, and 26 are actively working with the WA Government.

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said he was delighted to deliver the project.

“Time is critical in an emergency and could mean the difference between life and death," he said.

“BEN signs will be vital for first responders to identify the quickest route to a precise location.

“I have spoken to emergency responders who have told me they have no doubt these signs will save lives.

“In the event of an emergency, the public can call triple zero and quote the BEN number with confidence that emergency services will reach the destination as quickly as possible.”

Mr Gerring said the signs would relieve unnecessary stress trying to communicate with emergency services.

“Although nothing can ever bring my brother Ben back, knowing that the BEN signage will save many lives gives me some closure and a legacy that will never be forgotten,” he said.