TIPS FOR WALKERS/PARTICIPANTS
The best way to handle an emergency situation is to have planned ahead.
Know where you are going, when you are expected back, what conditions you will expect and notify someone. If you are new to an activity (such as canyoning, off track walking, longer walks) ask the leader for advice and follow that advice. Your leader has to consider the whole group and an inexperienced participant at times may put other people at risk. If you have a medical condition, that may cause an emergency if situations change, let the leader know. Ideally, leave the club contact information (which is on the program) with a family member.
Think about the risks inherent in an activity and work out how to avoid, manage, or minimize the risk. Risk management requires basic common sense and experience, and is the responsibility of all members of a party. A useful checklist for leaders is published on the BWRS (Bush Wilderness Rescue Squad) website.
The procedure you follow in an emergency will depend on the situation, and there can be no set of perfect guidelines. As a club, we have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of a large group with extensive experience. It is often said that it is easy to be knowledgeable about an event after it has happened; but hindsight is also a great teacher. Reviewing incidents or 'near misses' is a useful in learning more about managing emergency situations.
Do a first aid course - advisable for all bushwalkers. The club periodically runs Senior First Aid, BWRS run Remote Area First Aid - their website has information and costs. Current guidelines for resuscitation are on www.resus.org.au/
- First Aid - the club's notes on First Aid
A PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) is a small device which can be activated if you need evacuation. They can relay a signal with your exact location. The club has two PLB's for loan and they available for loan in the community (usually police stations). The club has organised bulk purchase prices at times, and many leaders now own their own.
On any walk that ventures past well frequented tourist tracks, you should check that someone is carrying a PLB. They assist not only the party, but the people responsible for your rescue.
- Guidelines for using PLBs - guidelines for members using their own or one of the club's PLBs
There are other devices such as SPOT trackers which are more flexible than PLB's. While they are useful, the PLB has been developed for emergencies and is extremely reliable.