Misuse of personal locator beacons (PLBs)

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) can be used during an emergency situation (typically in in remote areas) to summon emergency assistance via a radio signal that is picked up by satellites and commercial aircraft.

However, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has reported that many people in Australia are misusing these devices.    248,000 PLBs are registered in Australia.  During 2012, 1,700 PLBs have been triggered nationally, with 266 searches resulting, but only 109 events were genuine emergencies.

Some beacons are being triggered in capital cities and urban areas.  There have been 400 inadvertant activations and 21 confirmed hoaxes.    

Accidental, frivolous or hoax activation of PLBs puts significant inappropriate demand on national and state emergency services and wastes money. 

PLB users are reminded that distress beacons should only be used as a last resort when there is a threat of grave and imminent danger. In an emergency, communication should first be attempted using radios, phones, SPOT devices and other communications devices available.

Torches for searches

High powered and long lasting torches are essential equipment for searches.  We sometimes search during the night  in dense scrub and forest, and we occasionally camp overnight on search tasks, so a powerful and long lasting torch is required.  A spare set of batteries is essential too.

Torches for use on searches should:

  • be durable and waterproof
  • use two or more AA (penlight) batteries
  • have low and high power modes

A high quality head torch is very useful while searching and travelling at night and for cooking and camping out as they leave your hands free.  A low power mode is useful when using the torch in camp or at search base as it conserves the batteries.  A boost mode is useful when more power is needed in the field. 

Head torch example - Petzl MYO® RXP

Missing person found in Blue Range

20:50 Sun 19 Aug 2012.  Bush Search and Rescue was called out for a search for a missing person in the Blue Range near Rubicon.

The missing man was separated from his companion while in the bush at about 11am on Sunday 19 August.

11 BSAR searchers travelled by bus to the search location on Monday morning.  Shortly before arriving at search base the missing man was located safe and well in a gully having spent the night out. 

Bush Search and Rescue Search group at Yea on the way home.

Missing deer hunter near Corryong located

A deer hunter was reported missing near Corryong in North East Victoria after failing to return to camp on Friday 3 August 2012. Police and SES searched until 2am on Saturday then resumed searching at dawn. 

The missing person found his way out of the bush at 11:25am on Saturday 4 August.

Bush  Search and Rescue was not activated for this search.

Emergency Services Foundation - 2013 scholarships

There is an opportunity for BSAR members to apply for an Emergency Services Foundation (ESF) scholarship.

The Emergency Services Foundation was established following the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983. It operates as a trust to provide immediate support for those who suffer hardship as a result of the death of a family member or injuries sustained in the line of duty.

Tribute to Bill Bewsher

A gathering was held in Melbourne on Thursday 19 July at the Retreat Hotel in Abbotsford to celebrate the achievements and life of Bill Bewsher.

Many tales and memories were shared of Bill's remarkable contributions to education, the Bushcraft and Mountain Leadership (BMLC) course, Bush Search and Rescue, the Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs (now Bushwalking Victoria), Melbourne University Mountaineering Club, his quest for the first ascent of Federation Peak in South West Tasmania, and his leadership and exploration at the Australian Antartic Base.

Bill's achievements have been recognised in part by the naming of an Antartic mountain, a Tasmanian pass and Tasmanian lake after him.

Vale Bill Bewsher

Bill Bewsher passed away last weekend in Tasmania.  BSAR extends its condolences to Bill’s family and friends.

Bill was a leading figure within BSAR’s history and had a tremendous influence on the course of search and rescue for two decades.  He was appointed inaugural Convenor and held this position from 1949 to 1956 and again for a year in 1958-1959.  Bill also became the first Field Organiser in 1950 and, excepting a fifteen-month tour of duty in Antarctica, held that position until 1970.  After retiring from that position, Bill contributed as a Police Liaison Officer until the mid-1980s thereby concluding a 35-year involvement in land-based search and rescue.

One of the biggest searches coordinated by Bill was that for Mihram Haig at Mt Baw Baw in June 1955.  The terrain was steep and dense and communications were difficult.  An amazing 205 BSAR members attended during the search, the largest number on any search to date.

Behind the Log May 2012 edition out now

The May 2012 edition of Behind The Log, Bush Search and Rescue's regular newsletter, is now published and can be downloaded from [here] (pdf).  Articles include:

  • Call-outs and alerts in the last six months
  • BSAR Training Weekend, November 2011
  • Steep Snow and Ice Training, 22 and 28-29 July
  • BSAR Annual Report to Bushwalking Victoria
  • Tomahawk Gap Cold Case Search, October 2011
  • Welcome to New Individual BSAR Members

Vale Snow Girl

The Donna Buang search of 1953 was one of the pivotal searches in the history of Bush Search and Rescue Victoria. Bill Bewsher performed the role of Field Organiser at a time when the Victoria Police did not yet have a search and rescue squad.  BSAR personnel conducted the structured searching and recovered the two missing people, stretchering them both to the road. (Source The Scroggin Eaters).

One of the survivors, Jennifer Laycock, lost her legs to frostbite and the media labelled her the "Snow Girl" as they followed her recovery.

Steep snow and ice training 2012

Two events were held for Steep Snow and Ice training sessions this year; a dryland training day covering theory and some exercises at Williamstown on 22 July, followed by the steep snow and ice traiing in an alpine environment at Mount Buller on 28-29 July.

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