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DAILY shark patrols will begin next month as part of a $1.1million plan by Surf Lifesaving WA to keep beachgoers safe this summer.

Surf Lifesaving spokesman Chris Peck said $500,000 would be spent keeping the Westpac rescue helicopter in the air for three hours every day from mid-December to the end of February.  This year’s safety plan also included spending $600,000 on 30 emergency response points at secluded beaches and 27 beach surveillance cameras. And 4300 lifesavers will patrol beaches.

It is a significant investment in using technologies to combat coastal incidents, Mr Peck said.  It is the biggest presence we have ever had. Mr Peck said the State Government had agreed to provide thousands of dollars to help operate daily helicopter patrols.  The helicopter will fly for three hours between 6.30am and 2pm.

He said the public wanted more beach patrols in summer, with many people unhappy that aerial shark patrols had operated only on weekends and public holidays.  Mr Peck said ideally aerial patrols would operate five hours a day, but there wasn’t enough money to keep the helicopter in the air longer.

I think the pressure probably came from the public to have a service mid-week, he said.  The fact that something is up there (the helicopter) looking after them gives people a sense of security.  I would have liked another two hours so that we were flying five hours a day.  It would have enabled us to spread our patrol coverage a little more broadly.

Mr Peck said the use of emergency response points and surveillance cameras would help save lives. The response points are like emergency freeway phones.  Beachgoers can push the button and say to an operator I have seen a shark, someone is caught in a rip so we can get a team to that beach quickly he said.  The beach surveillance cameras don’t just take images, they gather data.  Whether it’s looking for sharks or missing people in the water, it has the functionality to assist as a third eye.

Source www.news.com.au

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In his first interview since he miraculously survived almost two weeks lost amid freezing temperatures in Sydney’s Blue Mountains, the 19-year-old from north London, who was found by bushwalkers last Wednesday, also denied his story was a hoax.

“I was thinking I might die on that mountain,” he told the 60 Minutes current affairs television program in Australia in an interview for which he was paid an estimated $200,000 (£100,000).

“I had actually written some goodbye notes and things to my family saying, my last walk, saying sorry, explaining how I’d got lost and different things like that.

“I’m not a particularly religious person but I started thinking about God and I was praying and saying, ‘Surely you can move a helicopter an inch and find me,’ and ‘Why won’t you just help me?’”

Mr Neale returned to the location of his near-fatal bushwalk with the television crew after being released from hospital in Katoomba on Friday.

He posed for photos at the Narrow Neck Plateau near Katoomba where he had been discovered last Wednesday by bushwalkers, and was then flown over the Blue Mountains by helicopter.

He said he had lost the notepad with his goodbye letters, and his digital camera, while trying to get out of the dense bushland.

His incredible tale of survival – where he endured 12 nights in freezing temperatures, eating kangaroo berries and geebung weed, and drinking from local streams – has attracted many sceptics questioning the veracity of his story.

However Mr Neale remains adamant that he became lost after getting disorientated by the sun, and dismissed talk his disappearance was a hoax or a stunt to make money.

“I know what happened, and I know the people who were out searching for me,” he said in the interview, which was set to air in Australia on Sunday night and will be broadcast in the UK on Sky.

“They know that it happened and that’s good enough for me. People can say what they want because I’m not lying. It’s the truth.”

Mr Neale and his father Richard Cass hosted drinks in Katoomba on Friday night for some of the scores of volunteers who searched the rugged bushland looking for the lost backpacker.

Mr Cass, who had flown to Australia from the family home in London to help search for his son, returned to England on Saturday.

Mr Neale will now travel by train to Perth to stay with relatives as he cannot fly for eight weeks due to air bubbles on his lungs.

Source  :  www.timesonline.co.uk

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