NEW computers and desks in a larger workspace and – finally – screens to keep tabs on anything likely to have a boatie scrambling for a distress flare; WA’s Water Police are all smiles over an $880,000 CSI-like makeover of their North Fremantle base.
Inspector Steve Scott from the police emergency management division said the refurbishment included a purpose-built coordination centre where all the agencies involved in marine search and rescue operations around the state can gather to share information.
“To be able to work side-by-side at the one location will improve communications between agencies, enhance our ability to coordinate search vessels and air support assets, and ensure that all partners involved have access to the latest technology to assist with search planning.”
Giving the Chook a tour of the facility, Insp Scott stops in the old coordination room where the police and support staff based in North Fremantle used to jostle elbows while trying to save lives.
“Imagine trying to cram 15 people in here with everyone talking, and we just had whiteboards up in here,” he said.
The new control room, where real-time monitors show tide and weather patterns, shark sightings and the location of all known boats, is preparing them for the future.
“We’re only going to get busier, because with Covid registrations are skyrocketing,” he said.
Sergeant Paul Crawshaw said 30 police, divers, radio operators and support staff were based at the Harvest Road base and had to be on their toes.
“So whatever capability we have here has to be able to manage multiple level 2 type incidents, and up to 100 tows and that sort of thing.
“Right now, not too much is happening, whereas in 30 minutes times, we can be running two major jobs here; one in the metro area and one in regional WA.”
He says when it comes to a rescue, particularly when a person was in the water, they rely on “one percenters”, such as droppable buoys that show where the tide might take them.
Fremantle Labor MP Simone McGurk got the tour as well and said the Water Police headquarters had stayed pretty much the same since the America’s Cup days of the late ‘80s.
“While the police officers who are based at the North Fremantle facility are responsible for coordinating the response to marine incidents across the entire state, their active patrols of the Fremantle and surrounding coastline and waterway provide much comfort and confidence to our local maritime operators – whether they be fishing vessels, recreational boaties or tourism operators.
“Our Water Police do an amazing job, and they deserve a safe, modern and functional facility to work from – and this has now been delivered.
The refurb also included an upgrade to the front counter and other parts of the office, and follows on from a recent $2 million upgrade of its jetty.
by STEVE GRANT