Throwback: Gold Coast Command

Thursday, 4 June 2020

You may not have heard of it but the State Operations and Communication Centre (SOCC) is the backbone to Surf Life Saving Queensland’s frontline services.

Not only does it assist in keeping beachgoers safe but it also ensures the safety of lifeguards and volunteer surf lifesavers.

Over the past three years, it has assisted with more than 6,000 major incidents across Queensland’s coastline.

While it is now based at Mermaid Beach, it was originally located on Miami Headland.

When it first opened back in 1979 it was known as the Gold Coast Command. A small radio shack that had been repurposed from a wave monitoring station.

Gold Coast Command in 1981

Gold Coast Command volunteers

Acting Lifesaving Operations Coordinator Jack McNeil says it has come a long way over the years thanks to technological advancements.

“Operators coordinate lifesaving assets, facilitate search and rescue operations, and link patrols with other emergency service organisations,” he said.

“Regular radio communication with services also means they can ensure the safety of our lifesavers and lifeguards.”

“Now they can also monitor SLSQ’s coastal camera network and track live rescue and beach visitation data throughout the day.”

The SOCC operates 365 days of the year and is operated by both staff and volunteers. It is supported on weekends and public holidays during the patrol season by the Sunshine Coast SurfCom which is manned solely by volunteers.

State Operations and Communication Centre, Mermaid Beach

TIMELINE

1979 – “Gold Coast Command” established on the top of Miami Headland.

2002 – Project “SurfCom” was deployed, which included a name change to SurfCom and the coordination of a new UHF SLSQ radio network, GPS tracking facilities, telecommunications and early iteration of the Surf Safety camera network on the Gold Coast.

2003 – A SurfCom facility was implemented on the Sunshine Coast to mirror the successful unit on the Gold Coast.

2013 – Gold Coast SurfCom moved from Miami Headland to its current site at the South Coast Branch building, Mermaid Beach.

2015-16 – SLSQ successfully transitioned from analog to digital radios in SEQ and Wide Bay Capricorn, ensuring all clubs from Rainbow Bay to Hervey Bay are now included within SLSQ’s Digital communications network.

2016-17 – Lifesaving and lifeguard services from Mackay to Port Douglas successfully transitioned from analog to digital radios, bringing the entire state up to the current standard.

2017-18 – SLSQ’s State Operations and Communications Centre (SOCC) officially opened its doors in January 2017.

Article by Chloe Maxwell

Gold Coast Command images supplied by Michael Mahon

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