Surf Life Saving Support Services have become a crucial development in surf rescue. Rapid motorised response units, which are on call 24 hours a day, provide another layer of support in keeping our beaches and aquatic environment safe.
Broadly speaking there are four main types of craft that make up our Support Services:
Rescue Water Craft (RWC)
Lifeguards have improved the ability of the RWC to be used in rescues. Although it cannot cater for the same number of patients as the IRB, it offers an operational capacity that makes it ideal for use by lifeguard and specialist services.
The introduction of the RWC into Surf Life Saving Support Services during the 1999-2000 season has been extremely successful. While Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) lifeguards had been using RWCs for several years, the introduction of this craft marked a significant step in our voluntary patrols.
Jet Rescue Boats (JRB)
The Jet Rescue Boat service has been operating for more than 30 years. JRBs are primarily used as a surveillance vessel however they also provide 24-hour callout and search and rescue service. The development of the aluminium craft, powered by turbo-charged diesel engines has meant a significant advancement in whitewater rescue capabilities.
With an overall length of 6.4 metres, the craft is slightly longer than its predecessors but offers greater speed and manoeuvrability. Better economy obtained from the diesel engine gives the craft a search and rescue duration of up to ten hours. Operational areas include high seas, shallow waters and river mouths where a jet system is unmatched.
Offshore Rescue Boat (ORB)
The ORBs are fully kitted-out emergency response vessels carrying state-of-the-art rescue, lifesaving and medical equipment. Unlike many other rescue craft, their specialty is search and rescue (S&R) with a strong
emphasis on first aid and basic medical response and assistance.
Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service was established by SLS in 1973 on an initial sponsorship of $25,000 from the Bank of New South Wales (now Westpac).
Helicopter and fixed wing services are operated by Surf Life Saving centres in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia. The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service provides the means to quickly and efficiently deliver emergency medical specialists to the most inaccessible areas, whenever life is threatened.