Each club involved in Bush Search and Rescue is required to maintain three telephone contact people known as Club Contacts. They are the link between BSAR PLOs and their club BSAR members during the call-out stage of a search.
Club Contacts are listed in order of call priority. During a call-out a PLO will call a club’s number 1 Contact first. If no answer, the PLO will call the number 2 Club Contact, and so on. If no Club Contacts answer that club's members may miss the opportunity to participate in the search.
Once a search is in progress Club Contacts may be asked to call for more volunteers from within their club BSAR group, or they may be asked to relay information back to the families of members who are in the field regarding search progress and return times.
People selected for this role should:
- Not be searchers. If Club Contacts go into the field during a search then their club cannot be contacted again for additional searchers or to relay messages. (Club Contacts are often former BSAR members or spouses of current members.)
- Have good telephone access and skills.
- Be familiar with the operation of BSAR.
Once selected Club Contacts should:
- Maintain regular liaison with the club’s designated BSAR Club Delegate.
- Have a copy of the BSAR manual and be familiar with its contents.
- Keep a current list of the club’s BSAR members by the phone at home and at work together with a pen and paper
When called by a PLO, the Club Contact should note the following:
- Name and telephone number of PLO.
- If any specialists are required (ie XC Skiers).
- General search area (if known).
- Any details ofmissing person(s) (usually very sketchy at this stage).
- Departure points and times for searchers.
- When to call the PLO to inform names of searchers obtained, and their departure points. Club Contacts should not ask searchers to contact the PLO directly to indicate availability.
A standard form is available from your Club Delegate to assist in making this task easier.
After noting the above information, the Club Contact should then quickly and efficiently:
- Call all the club’s listed BSAR members, except where specialists are required. Member lists are provided to Club Contacts by the club’s BSAR Club Delegate, and must be kept up to date at all times. The distance from the pick up point a member lives may influence call sequence to give members maximum time to prepare and reach the pick up point.
- Give the member a summary of the situation, and determine their availability. Note that participation in a search is totally voluntary, and a member is free to decline a call-out for any reason.
- Remind the member that the commitment is for a two-day period, and that they are required to report with adequate food and equipment for three days searching if required in an emergency. Refer to Chapter 7.
- Continue to make repeated attempts to contact every listed member up until the time nominated by the PLO.
If a member is available ensure they clearly understand the departure point and time.
Once all eligible members have been contacted (noting that in the short time available it is likely that some members may be unable to be reached), the Club Contact then calls the PLO at the pre-arranged time and informs the PLO of names obtained and their departure points.
Some members may not be available immediately, but may be available for a second call-out (usually once a search has been in progress for at least one day). This information should be noted, as it can speed up a second call-out.
The Police provide transport to search areas. For metropolitan members, the BSAR Committee and the Police do not allow members to use private transport to reach search HQ. The location of search HQ can change during the transit period, and BSAR organisation tasks occur on the bus.
For Melbourne metropolitan members, the departure points are as follows:
- Green Street Northcote. Off-street car parking is available.
- A nominated 24-hour manned Police station en-route to the search area. Arranged by the PLO, this may not occur depending upon the locale of the search. Usually applies when the bus can pass through the eastern suburbs on its way to the search (ie Mt. Buller, Baw Baws, etc.).
- Country members may make arrangements to meet the bus on its journey at a pre-arranged point (ie. Violet Town, Myrtleford etc). This information will need to be passed back to the PLO immediately via the Club Contact.
Once a search is in progress, the Club Contact should:
- Inform the other Club Contacts about who has gone on the search, and who is available for a second call-out.
- If the Club Contact will be out of touch for a significant time, inform the PLO which other Club Contact to call if more searchers are required or if information regarding the search has to be passed back to relatives or employers.
- Enquiries about the search from searcher’s family members should be directed to the PLO via the Club Contact.
At the end of a search it can often take up to a day for search groups to return to search HQ, and then be transported back to Melbourne. This needs to be kept in mind when hearing media reports about the end of a search. Where possible, the PLO will keep Club Contacts informed, but communications between search HQ and PLO’s can be limited, so Club Contacts need to be patient.
After all searchers have returned, Club Contacts should discuss with their club’s BSAR Club Delegate any problems they may have had, such as incorrect telephone numbers, etc.
Updated 16 Feb 2011