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“No drill. Not a drill,” police said as they hit the panic button after spotting the dingy circling in the waters off Rockingham in Perth.
The boat’s driver was nowhere to be seen.
Within three minutes police were able to locate the skipper 200m away from his vessel.
He was pulled from the water and taken back to shore where an ambulance was waiting.
“He took in a lot of sea water and is suffering from hypothermia,” 9News reporter Olivia Donaldson said from the police boat.
Senior Constable Luke McCulloch said the man “would’ve only had a couple more minutes left in him”.
Police say the driver of the boat, a man in his 40s, was drunk and had been driving erratically just 10 minutes before the rescue.
He was also not wearing a life jacket.
“The chances are if you are wearing a life jacket we will recover you alive,” Ivan Parker from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services said.
“If you’re not, the outcome is very, very different.”
WA Police Minister Paul Papalia said the operation showed what Water Police are trained to do.
“In the event of a real emergency, which can happen at anytime, they’re ready to go.”
This year alone Water Police in WA have conducted 90 rescues.
Inspector Steve Scott from the Emergency Management and Specialist Support Division said the incident highlighted how important water safety was.
“It just shows how suddenly things can change out on the water.”