Saving lives through technology

TitleSaving lives through technology
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsRoberts, C
Conference NameWorld Conference on Drowning Prevention
Date Published09/2007
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationPorto, Portugal
Other Numbers02-08

For many years, Life saving techniques has traditionally been the work of paid or volunteer lifeguards with specific rescue equipment or the use of powered vessels. While these methods still prove to be very effective, the new age of IT has seen vast improvements in the way in which technology can assist lifeguard services in saving lives.

Within Australia, these changes have seen the development of a comprehensive National Incident Report Database with the ability to extensively analyse data, producing comprehensive risk management reports allowing us to target high risk areas. This combined with Organisational Management and Training systems has seen the organisation move leaps and bounds with its ability to save lives a lot more effectively.

Recently the development of two specific projects has again taken another large step in the effort of reducing the amount of lives lost along the coastline. The introduction of Surf Safety Camera’s and Emergency Response Beacons has allowed Surf Life Saving to more efficiently and effectively manage its resources in an effort to reduce drownings.

The CoastalWatch / Surf Life Saving developed Surf Safety Camera’s are continually improving in their capabilities. Comprising of a series of mounted camera’s these technology now has the ability to monitor inshore wave heights, beach patterns, beach visitations, wave types and combined with the Australian Beach Safety and Management Program provide real time risk management status of given beaches. The potential with the camera systems to monitor water surface movements and thus rip currents may see one day the ability to predict rips via camera intelligence systems.

The Emergency Response Beacon (ERB) provides an instantaneous communication link between unpatrolled / remote locations and surf lifesaving services.

ERB use can be employed in a number of capacities, from temporary mobile units which a patrol may set up at the start of the day, to permanent fixed units at popular rock fishing sites or hard to access areas. The ERB allow for a major reduction in response times allowing a better chance of patient survival.

Learning Outcomes
  1. An understanding of the value of technology as a lifesaving tool.
  2. An appreciation of the future where technology has a vital link in saving lives
  3. A cooperative way in which together technology can be enhanced world-wide in the effort of drowning prevention


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