New HQ gives sea rescue a boost

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Broome Volunteer Sea Rescue Group members Craig Coulson, Commander Brett Winfield, Colin Kenworthy and Georgie Barnes.
Camera IconBroome Volunteer Sea Rescue Group members Craig Coulson, Commander Brett Winfield, Colin Kenworthy and Georgie Barnes. Credit: Jakeb Waddell

At least two lives have been saved because of the construction of a sea-rescue headquarters at Entrance Point, according to the commander of a local volunteer organisation.

Broome Volunteer Sea Rescue Group moved into its new million-dollar facility in July, 2017, which was built to slash response times to incidents off the town’s coast and attract more helpers.

The building contains a large storage shed, and a technologically advanced operations area and support room, with a 7.7m rescue vessel also granted.

The organisation had been operating out of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services office and a tin shed in the light industrial area before the new headquarters was built, and was forced to launch rescue vessels with a tractor.

BVSRG commander Brett Winfield said the project had well and truly surpassed its goal of improving response time to emergencies.

“Mainly due to our proximity to our launching area at Entrance Point, we have been able to attend to incidents within 20 minutes of the first call,” he said.

“We also have amenities which have raised our profile and also encouraged our members to stay with us.”

Commander Winfield said quicker responses had potentially saved at least two lives and prevented another incident from being far more catastrophic.

“We have had two very high-profile rescues where, had we been at our old location, the outcome could have been a lot different,” he said.

Commander Winfield said one such rescue occurred in November when a French tourist fell from the rocks at Gantheaume Point and a 44-year-old man dived in to save him.

The Broome Advertiserreported a police officer swam out on a paddleboard and the trio clambered on the board until BVSRG were able to save them minutes later. Commander Winfield said the event would have “almost certainly had a different outcome” if they were not able to attend in less than 20 minutes.

He said another incident involved recovering the body of a 39-year-old man who drowned in Roebuck Bay during a fishing trip in 2017.

“The family have since expressed their gratitude to us for providing them closure in this instance,” he said.

The BVSRG headquarters was funded by Federal and State Government grants.

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