Sea rescue volunteers fly under the radar 

Albany Sea Rescue Commander Derek Ryall receiving the National Medal for his 25 years of service from Volunteer Marine Rescue WA Commander Jeff Howe.  (Supplied: Albany Sea Rescue  )

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Albany Sea Rescue volunteers have been awarded top honours for their tireless efforts protecting lives along our dangerous coastline.  

During a presentation dinner last week, 11 local heroes received Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Marine Rescue Awards and nine were presented with the National Medal.

Marine rescue groups only became eligible for the National Medal in 2019 after being the only volunteer field that didn’t qualify. 

The top gong is awarded for 15 years of diligent service to marine rescue volunteers, with clasps presented for every additional 10 years of service.

Volunteer Marine Rescue WA Commander Jeff Howe and Marine Rescue Services WA Manager Mark Eatts presented the prestigious awards on the night.

Unsung heroes  

ASR Commander Derek Ryall said the awards helped highlight the often-overlooked volunteers within the local sea rescue unit.

“I think our radio operators are largely unknown by the general public,” he said.

“They see the boats going out, but they don’t know that Albany has a radio manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“There’s only about one other unit in Western Australia that does this. The radio operators play a very big part in our day-to-day operations.”

Three of the National Medals were awarded to volunteers who had dedicated over 45 years of service.

Mr Ryall said he was unfortunate enough to receive a National Medal for his 25 years of serving the community.

“I think it’s good to know the work that you put in as a volunteer is recognised,” he said. 

Safety app trialled 

Meanwhile, the ASR unit is trialling a free boat safety app called Deckee which houses local information about navigation, mooring and boat ramps, alongside weather and emergency alerts

One of the main safety features of the app is the trip logging feature which allows boats to enter their departure and return time.

The logged information is sent to the local unit’s IT system to help rescuers determine locations and bring down their response time.

The trial is expected to be completed by mid June.

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