The Volunteer Marine Rescue service in Geraldton has acquired revolutionary new communications equipment in the form of a voice over internet protocol system used to run life-saving missions.
Volunteer Daniel Beard said the new VOIP system allowed volunteers to massively expand their capability by viewing data, videos, maps and graphics on-screen while communicating with multiple radio channels at the same time.
“We don’t have to manually operate individual radios to talk on different channels,” he said.
“Anywhere where there is internet access in the world, we can run the radios.”
Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan gave the example of a volunteer who happened to be visiting Geraldton Police Station when an emergency call came through.
“They were able to manage the situation from their laptop in the police station,” he said.
“It shows you the power of the internet now and the capacity of the technology.”
Mr Logan said the volunteer was able to activate the base at Point Moore and run the operation without leaving the police station.
Mr Beard said the VMR’s military-grade laptop had an internal sim cards so it could work in any location with mobile reception, including Geraldton Police Station, which had limited marine communication capabilities.
“Their ability to operate marine radios is not very good because of the location of their building,” he said.
“It’s got too many other buildings in the way and there’s no line of sight anywhere useful.
“But the ability to respond immediately to a rapidly expanding situation where lives are at stake is massively expanded by the appropriate use of technology available.”
Mr Logan commended Geraldton VMR for signing up 20 new volunteers, including six with commercial skipper’s licences, after a recruitment drive.
“It is a terrific initiative from a local group, particularly when you hear of the issue of the volunteer base shrinking around Australia,” he said.
He spoke after an informal meeting at Geraldton VMR’s Point Moore facility where Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm recognised volunteer Sharon Beer for five years meritorious service.