Chapter 1 - Introduction

Welcome to Bushwalkers Search and Rescue. The principal aim of this book is to introduce members of the Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs Bushwalkers Search and Rescue to their roles and responsibilities within the organisation. It is also intended that this book provide a back¬ground of the history, structure, administration and operational methods so that the role of the individual is understood within a broader context.

Bushwalkers are invariably free spirits who work more effectively when they thoroughly understand the group of which they are a part and the methods they are expected to employ. The organisation of informed and motivated people into small groups in which the ideas of the individual are readily heard seems to be much more effective on searches than a more military-style model with a few “generals” and many relatively uninformed “troops” doing just what they are told.

Wherever possible, this book tries to answer the question of why things are done in a particular way.

We are one of several organisations Police call on to assist with searches in remote areas. Each organisation is called because of the particular exper¬tise it brings. The State Emergency Service often provides searchers, skilled drivers with four-wheel drive vehicles and sometimes horses. In alpine areas in winter, resort-based ski patrollers are used.

Local Police and land management authority staff (e.g. National Park rangers) will often have begun search¬ing before Bushwalkers Search and Rescue volunteers arrive. Each of these organisations has its own speciality and together we provide the resources necessaryin most large searches.

Bushwalkers Search and Rescue is fortunate to be able to call on the services of so many skilled people. The entry requirements ensure that all members are experienced bushwalkers and many bring additional outdoor (ski touring, mountaineering) and other skills into the organisation. Thus this manual assumes these personal skills and concentrates on the more specific aspects of search and rescue.

To many outsiders, searching seems to be a fairly random process and its success is seen to be largely a matter of luck. There is no doubt that luck does play a part, but searchers make their own “luck” to a large extent. Search organisers take account of many factors, but probably the most im¬portant one is the knowledge of how a large number of lost people behaved in the past. Other factors include the background and experience of the lost person, knowledge of likely survival times and the competence of the searchers.

It can therefore be seen that, while the process remains one of “playing the odds”, well-run searches weigh the odds very heavily in the lost person’s favour.

Searchers on the 1952 Marysville search

Searchers on the 1952 Marysville search

Disclaimer

Procedures, structures and other details described in this manual are current at the time of writing, but may change over time. Members should keep up-to-date through their Club Search and Rescue Delegate.

2003 Edition