Emergency markers make for a safer summer at Lake Eppalock

Monday 10 December, 2018
Lake Eppalock emergency markers
GMW Senior Storage Officer Kevin Henderson with a newly installed emergency marker at Lake Eppalock.

Visitors to Lake Eppalock are now safer in the event of a fire, accident or medical emergency thanks to a network of emergency markers installed in strategic locations around the lake’s perimeter.

The emergency marker project has been completed in time for the influx of thousands of summer visitors who swim, boat and fish in one of Australia’s most popular inland lakes.

The markers, installed by Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) and funded by Transport for Victoria’s Boating Safety & Facilities Program, resemble large street signs with white text on a green background. Each has a unique alphanumeric code made up of three letters and three numbers.

In an emergency situation, 000 callers can quote the code which is linked to the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) database - specifying the location of the incident, GPS coordinates, best road access route and navigational data - so emergency services can respond as quickly as possible.

“This will save lives,” Group Officer David Cleator, of Eppalock Fire Brigades Group, said.

With a number of brigades backing onto the lake, Mr Cleator said knowing the pinpoint location of an emergency is crucial to improving response times. He said emergencies at Lake Eppalock can range from fires to accidents or someone suffering a heart attack while fishing.

“We’ve had more than a dozen boat fires in the past 10 years and these can be very serious,” he said.

Complicating any emergency is the general lack of knowledge visitors have about Lake Eppalock, which has a meandering coastline and many bays and inlets. Its primary role as a storage facility for water entitlement holders means its volume also changes from season to season, exposing hidden hazards.

“People come here from Melbourne to enjoy Eppalock but they don’t always have an understanding of the lake, making it hard to tell 000 operators how to find them in the event of an emergency,” Mr Cleator said.

GMW Recreation and Land Operations Officer Chris Braden said the markers have been installed at 27 sites chosen for maximum coverage of the lake, particularly for those on a boat.

Locations include Lake Eppalock’s public boat ramps, commercial caravan park ramps and the lake perimeter and visitors are encouraged to take note of the nearest code while on or around the lake.

These marker locations are also included on GMW’s Interactive Water Level Mapping tool for Lake Eppalock, which can be found at www.gmwater.com.au/recreation-tourism/interactive-water-level-mapping

“This online tool is an important safety initiative in itself,” Mr Braden said.

“Our water storage levels may experience low inflows and high customer demand, so the level of the lake can vary to what past visitors may have been used to.

“This tool, which is also available for Lake Eildon, allows users to see for themselves what water levels are likely to be and they can make informed decisions about their visit.”

Victoria has 175 locations served by the emergency marker program with efforts focused on a number of shared user trails and pathways. More information about ESTA emergency markers can be found at https://www.esta.vic.gov.au/emergency-markers