At all times on a search you are an official representative of Bush Search and Rescue. The general public judge you not only on results but on appearances. Most importantly, you are judged on your conduct. This section details the responsibilities and specific expectations of you as a member of BSAR.
The Field Organiser will expect that you have responded to the call-out because you:
- Are fit and have no injuries
- Are ready for two days away
- Have the correct food and equipment for three days (in the event of an emergency)
- Meet any special requirements of the call-out
- Have the support of your employer to attend.
Remember, a call-out is not the time to recruit new members. Only registered members, called out through the Club Contact can attend a search.
Ensure you arrive at the departure point ahead of time. Follow any instructions you may be given for parking your car and then fill in the attendance sheet.
Once you are on the Police bus, be considerate of the fact that most members will wish to get some sleep. Please leave the front seats free for the FO and assistants. Later, when the FO has allocated you to a search group, you will be expected to get together with your group. Under the guidance of your Group Leader, ensure that you organise yourself for the search task.
Remain with your group throughout the search. This includes when being transported, at base, in camp or accommodation and while in the field. Keep your Group Leader informed of your movements if you are required to be away from your group at any stage.
“Hurry up and wait!” is a common description of what it is like at the search base. There always seem to be excessive delays, while searchers wait around, keen to get started. In fact much detailed planning and organisation is taking place. Remember that a search cannot be planned in advance like an ordinary trip. During the inevitable delays check your instructions and ensure that you and your search group are packed, organised, fed and ready to go.
Throughout the search you may notice minor problems or delays. However, the job gets done, so please maintain a sense of proportion if you wish to comment on any issue that has occurred.
Especially on a larger search, the search base area is busy with many interesting things going on. Avoid being distracted by the activity. Ensure you stay with your group, listen carefully to all briefings and remain focussed on the task at hand.
Be considerate of the likely presence of the family and friends of the missing person(s), the media, and members of other search organisations. While it is normal for searchers to discuss the circumstances of the search, the actions and possible condition of the lost person(s), the search strategies and progress, take care to keep these conversations private.
Group Leaders and FOs are always open to suggestions, ideas and comments, but give them at the appropriate time, not when they are in conference, particularly with Police Search Coordinators.
The FO has the role of making statements to the media on behalf of BSAR. If the media approaches you for comment, refer them to the FO or Police. In some instances the FO may ask a member to be interviewed. If so, restrict your comments to the FO’s parameters, think carefully before speaking, and give facts rather than speculation or opinions. If in any doubt, refer the question back to the FO or Police.
Take note of Chapter 9, describing the key skills of an effective searcher: observation, navigation, calling, listening, marking, recording and coverage. Once in the field, follow best bushwalking practice and the directions of your Group Leader to ensure that your search group operates as a team to effectively complete the search task. Take every precaution to ensure that you do not become separated from your search group.
Maintaining search concentration is a big challenge, given the fact that most searchers usually find nothing. Invariably BSAR work in very difficult terrain and usually poor weather, so searching is very tedious and exhausting. While it can be tempting to “let your hair down” at times, refrain from frivolous behaviour, particularly after the search and at search base.
If you are issued with a radio or GPS unit, take great care of them. Avoid getting them soaking wet. Return items promptly at the end of each day. You will probably be issued with a BSAR pack cover and armband. Make sure these items are well secured, as they are easily lost. Return them at the end of the search.
At the conclusion of the search, there is often an assembly of search¬ers from all organisations, usually conducted by the Police Operations Commander. The purpose of this meeting is to formally conclude and sum up the search and to thank all concerned. Friends or family of the missing person and the media are usually present. The FO will make any comments on behalf of BSAR. This is not the forum for question or comment on the conduct of the search.
Members have a good opportunity to comment during the dc-brief on the bus on the way home. Further, at its next meeting the BSAR Committee will review the search. Comments, questions and suggestions are most welcome and should be directed through your Club Search and Rescue Delegate. After all major searches, the Police conduct a formal debriefing, usually a couple of weeks latet BSAR will be involved, again providing the opportunity for comments to be passed on and points of view to be exchanged.