The state government and Telstra has announced it will drastically boost mobile phone coverage at Twilight Beach to strengthen public safety and emergency responses.
Fisheries Minister David Tinley delivered the announcement in Esperance on March 4, which will see Telstra repeaters installed on the roof of the Esperance-Goldfields Surf Life Saving Club to provide better coverage to a 50 square metre area.
Mr Tinley said after meeting with emergency services in the wake of January’s fatal shark attack, it was clear the mobile black spot needed to be immediately strengthened to enable communication during an emergency.
The new technology is set to be online in two weeks and will ensure club members can communicate with other emergency services, reach boats on the water and easily report shark sightings to the SharkSmart app.
Mr Tinley said the ability to quickly inform beach-goers of surrounding shark activity was central to the state’s shark mitigation strategy.
“We are working towards a more permanent solution which will give wide area coverage as part of the general Telstra coverage down here which will assist in the emergency services response to all sorts of issues, not least a shark attack,” he said.
Telstra state director Malcom DeSilva said Telstra was very pleased to support the state government to enhance coverage at Twilight Beach.
“Every second counts in an emergency and providing mobile coverage to support the local team of life savers and emergency responders can make all the difference in saving a life,” he said.
“Our commitment to promoting and supporting community safety is paramount and that is really what drove this partnership with the state government, so that will continue to be one of our main focuses.”
Surf Life Saving WA director Chris Brien said mobile communication was a vital tool in an emergency.
“If we are not able to get our radio communications through our next fallback is mobile communications. If we can have mobile communication on all the beaches it becomes safer for everyone,” he said.
Mr Brien said coverage should be extended to more beaches, particularly Salmon Beach and those to the west of the town site.
“We had a near miss on Australia Day weekend at Salmon Beach because at the moment there is no coverage,” he said.
Minister Tinley said the state government was working with the shire to develop a long term plan to extend coverage further along the coast.