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Remote area communications

Peter Briggs AO BSAR Field OrganiserThis article provides information for parties visiting remote areas to make informed choices on systems suitable for communications, including during an emergency.  

Prepared and published: Bush Search and Rescue Victoria. A0002548Y.   Date last updated: 12 March 2015. Version: Draft, undergoing review. 

Note: Communication/emergency alerting systems are no substitute for planning, good bush and navigation skills, appropriate fitness and sound leadership. Bushwalking and ski trips should be based on participant’s skills and experience, and the party should be of sufficient size and ability.  Meeting these basic requirements for safety should ensure the planned activity is safe and enjoyable. External assistance should not be required except for unusual or unexpected circumstances.

Emergency + Smartphone App

Triple Zero emergency plus app
Australia’s Triple Zero Awareness Working Group has developed a smartphone app for iOS and Android devices to:
  • Provide the caller with information about when to call Triple Zero
  • Provide the caller with information about who to call in various non-emergency situations
  • State Emergency Service (SES) (132 500)
  • Police Assistance Line (131 444)
  • Crime Stoppers (1800 333 000)
  • Health Direct Australia (1800 022 222)
  • National Relay Service
  • Assist the caller to dial the relevant number
  • Display the GPS coordinates of the phone's location that the caller can read out to the emergency operator.
The app is free of charge and available for download from iTunes (iOS) and Google Play (Android) app stores    

Behind the Log BSAR newsletter October 2014 edition out now

The October 2014 edition of Behind The Log, Bush Search and Rescue's regular newsletter, is now published and can be downloaded from [here] (pdf). 

Articles include:
  • Mt Bogong rescue on the Staircase Spur, Jul 14
  • Mt Bogong search for missing snowboarders, Jul 14 
  • Mt Bogong evacuation of injured skier, Sep 14
  • BSAR search pick up points
  • Steep snow and ice training on the Razorback
  • BSAR members compete and win medals in the Emergency Services Games

October 2014 Behind The Log

Police Search and Rescue training at Mount Arapilies

A video of Victoria Police Search and Rescue training at Mount Arapilies.

Avalanche safety

This article provides information about avalanches and safety advice for avoiding them.  Avalanches can and do occur in Australia. Always remember: the avalanche doesn't know that you are an expert.  
Ski patrollers in resorts assess avalanche risks and conduct control measures when necessary, but groups travelling in the backcountry are responsible for their own safety. 
Avalanche debris Champex valley Switzerland
Avalanche debris visible in Champex valley, Switzerland on the Haute Route. Note ski tracks to the right.

Avalanche Types

There are four main types of avalanches: slab, cornice, wet snow and powder.

BSAR search for missing snowboarders on Mount Bogong

Mt Bogong search 13-15 July 2014

Two snowboarders failed to return home as expected from a trip to Mt Bogong on Saturday evening 12 July.  Police initiated a full BSAR callout of both north east and Melbourne members early Sunday morning.  Three BSAR members from the Birkenbeiner Nordic Ski Club at Mt Beauty quickly responded, climbing to Michell Hut where the men’s tent was situated, and commenced searching the debris below a recent avalanche site that had been located off the east side of the upper Eskdale Spur.

On Sunday evening a large team of Police Search and Rescue and additional BSAR members from Melbourne climbed to Michell hut and prepared for a large scale search effort.  Searching the avalanche debris located one victim on Monday morning.  As the fate the two men was now tragically clear, on Monday evening all BSAR searchers were flown off Mt Bogong by Police helicopter.

Police Search and Rescue and BSAR searchers preparing at Michell Hut

Search and rescue on Mount Bogong for two missing snowshoers


Mt Bogong search and rescue 5-6 July 2014

Police received a triple 0 call from two men lost on Mt Bogong on Saturday 5 July, who had become separated from the rest of their party in bad weather.  Police requested BSAR assistance.  Five BSAR members from the Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club at Mt Beauty responded at short notice to the BSAR local call-out and ascended the Staircase Spur during the night.  In the early hours of Sunday morning they located the two men in their collapsed tent near the top of the Staircase Spur.  Both were thoroughly soaked, severely hypothermic and dehydrated.  The men were moved into tents and carefully warmed over the next few hours.

Once sufficiently re-warmed, each man was moved down to Bivouac Hut for further treatment, now assisted by members of Police Search and Rescue Squad.  At Bivouac Hut additional BSAR members from Melbourne and Mt Beauty, as well as local SES personnel, assisted in getting the men off Mt Bogong.  This was successfully achieved by the end of the day.  Both men made a full recovery.

Campsite, Staircase spur.  Photo: Bob Flower

2014 BSAR Steep Snow and Ice training at The Razorback

We held our Steep Snow and Ice training this year amidst spectacular scenery on The Razorback on 5 to 7 September 2014.  


The training covered roping up, travelling roped, using a z-pulley with the new MPD, avalanche rescue using transceivers, shovels and probes, climbing with ice axe and crampons, low angle haul of the sked and some skiing and snow shoeing.  Twenty 23 members attended.

We had a wonderful view of the sunset from our camp near Diamantina Hut.

We thank Victoria Police Search and Rescue and Transport Branch and Mount Hotham Resort Management for their support of this training event.

2014 BSAR Steep Snow and Ice training on the Razorback

The Razorback and Mt Feathertop


Peter Briggs AO

Peter Briggs AO is a BSAR Field Organiser and a retired Rear Admiral.  Peter Briggs is leading a team of Australians on a mission to preserve the WW1 submarine AE2 as part of the Silent Anzac Project.

Peter Briggs BSAR Field Organiser

BSAR Field Organiser Peter Briggs on a different type of search - for submarine AE2

Peter Briggs

BSAR Field Organiser and Retired Rear Admiral Peter Briggs is leading a team of Australians on a different type of search - a mission to preserve the WW1 submarine AE2 as part of the Silent Anzac Project.

Peter previously led a dive survey in October 2007 that found the 99-year-old submarine to be in "remarkably good shape".
HMAS Ae2 submarine
HMAS AE2 in Sydney, circa 1914. Source: Australian War Memorial
The well-preserved submarine was sunk by Ottoman gunfire off the Turkish coast in 1915.  HMAS AE2 was an E-class submarine of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and was the first Allied submarine to penetrate the Dardanelles strait in a bid to secure the Gallipoli Peninsula.
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