What are Beach Emergency Number (BEN) signs & how do they work?
BEN stands for Beach Emergency Number. The BEN system is a unique coding system designed to improve emergency response times by installing signs with unique numbers at beach access points.
Each BEN sign has a unique code based on an area prefix followed by a one-to-four-digit number. This code is linked to the coordinates for the location of the sign. The official location name (if there is one), the address, suburb and nearest intersection are also on each sign.
These signs will provide specific location information, vital when emergency services are deployed in the event of a shark sighting, attack or other beach emergencies.
This information is also integrated into computer-aided dispatch systems used by emergency services (ambulance, police and SLSWA). The below example shows how we utilise the BEN in a tweet identifying an alert or activity such as a beach closure or shark sighting.
What do BEN signs look like?
All BEN signs installed under the State Government’s program are reversible with a uniform red and green sign on the front and a beach closure alert on the back. This consistent approach is helping ensure familiarity, which improves sign awareness in an emergency. The beach closure sign will allow local government authorities (LGAs) easy access to signage in case of an emergency.
Where are the BEN signs located?
BEN signs are installed along the West Australian coast at beach access points in participating local government authority areas (LGAs) from Geraldton to Esperance. Some signs will also be located at harbours and estuaries, boat ramps, fishing platforms and jetties.
For more information and locations of BEN signs, visit www.sharksmart.com.au/staying-safe/beach-emergency-numbers/
How do I use a BEN sign in an emergency?
You can guide emergency services to a specific location using the Beach Emergency Number (BEN) on the signs.
When visiting the beach, take note of the closest BEN sign location and information – we suggest taking a photo of it on your phone! In an emergency, dial 000 and quote the unique code and location information on the BEN sign. Where possible, someone should wait at the BEN sign until the emergency service arrives.
How do I use a BEN sign when reporting shark sightings?
BEN signs may also be referred to when reporting shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600. This will help implement beach closures earlier by using this accurate location information.
What if there is no BEN sign?
In an emergency where there is no BEN sign, you are encouraged to use the free Emergency+ app. The app uses the GPS functionality built into smartphones to help a triple zero caller provide critical location details required to mobilise emergency services.
For more information visit http://emergencyapp.triplezero.gov.au/
What if I am at a remote beach with no mobile phone coverage?
Where mobile phone coverage is limited, emergency calls can sometimes be made on triple zero by using another mobile service provider available in the area. When visiting areas where no mobile coverage is available, you should monitor mobile phone signal strength and seek high points in the area you’re in to aid communication.
You can also use the free Emergency+ app to call for assistance. If there is no mobile phone coverage you WILL NOT be able to call 000 but the app will provide you with GPS location details.