Hot Water Beach Emergency phone proves its worth

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Hot Water Beach Emergency Callout Squad members
(L to R): Peter Curry, Logan Carter and Stacey Semmens, alongside the new emergency phone at Hot Water Beach.

The emergency phone at Hot Water Beach proved its worth last night when it was activated for the first time.

The first, of what is hoped to be many emergency phones at beaches across the country, was installed at Hot Water Beach in June as part of an innovative new approach to reducing drowning and injury at the iconic Coromandel beach.

It is situated on the toilet block in the main sealed car park at the southern end of the beach.

Hot Water Beach Lifeguard Service Chairman Gary Hinds says a man using the public showers fainted and luckily the button was right near him as he was able to activate it.

An ambulance was called and although no lifeguards were required on site, Mr Hinds went to make sure everything was ok. The ambulance crew was there treating the man, he says.

Mr Hinds say it's the first time the phone has been activated and with the patrol season fast approaching he can definitely see the benefits. "It's certainly a great resource to have there and hopefully we will see more phones like this one in other locations in the future," he says.

The phone is set up like an intercom system; if the button is pressed, the phone will dial the SurfCom and Coastguard Northern Region Operations Centre in the Auckland Marine Rescue Centre, to be answered by Surf Life Saving and Coastguard personnel, who staff the centre at all times.

The Hot Water Beach Emergency Callout Squad will be activated through SMS and pagers. Police will also be engaged and will coordinate search and rescue operations.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand Aquatic Risk Manager Nick Mulcahy says the intention of the phone is to reduce the time between an after-hours incident occurring and surf lifeguards (and/or other agencies) being notified. "As such, it will enable efficient activation and hopefully assist in time critical incidents and save lives," he says.

The phone is currently being trialled, and if successful, this system may be recommended for aquatic environments throughout New Zealand including beaches, lakes and rivers.

This project has been made possible through the support of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), Thames-Coromandel District Council, Aspect Solutions Limited, Surf Life Saving Northern Region, Coastguard Northern Region and Hot Water Beach Lifeguard Service.

Mr Mulcahy says he is very grateful to all partners of this project as without their support it would not have been possible. "We are particularly grateful to Aspect Solutions Limited who provided the emergency phone to us and installed the unit, all free of charge," he says.

Aspect Solutions Limited Sales and Accounts Manager Tim McMahon says the company saw real value in working with Surf Life Saving New Zealand to help protect people in the water at one of New Zealand's most popular and iconic destinations. "If the emergency phone can help reduce the emergency response time and help save even one life, it will be a great success," he says.

The emergency phone, which was installed at Hot Water Beach, is the first to be dedicated specifically to streamlining water-based emergency response. If you would like to discuss the operation of the emergency phone please contact Nick Mulcahy, Aquatic Risk Manager, Surf Life Saving New Zealand on 04 560 0334 or email

For more information contact:

Lisa Honeybone, Media & Communications Specialist, Surf Life Saving New Zealand
Phone 027-648-8823 or email