Ben’s lifesaving legacy

David SalvaireSound Telegraph
City of Mandurah mayor Marina Vergone with Rick Gerring at Gearies Beach.
Camera IconCity of Mandurah mayor Marina Vergone with Rick Gerring at Gearies Beach. Credit: City of Mandurah

In an emotional address at Gearies Beach on Friday, the brother of surfer Ben Gerring helped launch the City’s new beach emergency system in the hope it would help save lives.

Rick Gerring was joined by City of Mandurah mayor Marina Vergone at the site where his brother was killed by a shark last May.

The new Beach Emergency Numbers (BEN) signage was installed at more than 80 coastal locations throughout Mandurah last week, with the aim of assisting emergency services to find locations quickly and effectively over long stretches of coast.

Each sign includes information to support emergency responders including official beach names, GPS co-ordinates, coding, closest street addresses and nearest crossroads.

Mayor Vergone said the signage was a “very important” step for Mandurah. “The City has led the charge to deliver the BEN system, and has liaised with a range of government agencies, local governments and community members to make this a reality,” she said.

“We’d like to thank the many individuals, agencies and local governments who have contributed to the development of the project.

“We’re encouraging other Local Governments and the State Government to get on board, and we are now finalising an advisory document for other Local Governments and agencies to encourage consistency and expansion of the concept in Western Australia.”

Mandurah’s emergency coding system is based on a similar model which has been successful in Queensland.

Ben Gerring’s friend and Mandurah Boardriders Club president Brian Williams said the system should be taken up by all local governments along the WA coast.

“Its fantastic that Ben’s left a legacy of those signs that will help people in the future,” he said.

“Its common sense for other coastal suburbs to take it on and I’d really like to see it adopted across the board so emergency services can pinpoint where they need to be.”

Mr Williams said he supported the sustainable fishing of white sharks to help reduce numbers.

“I don’t think there are too many people here who are adverse to it and it would be pretty well received,” he said.

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