As a member of BSAR you are now “on call”. It is assumed that you will maintain yourself and your gear in the state of readiness you have agreed to on application. We, the members of BSAR, offer this service because of our experience, skills, special knowledge and equipment.
It is understood that our services will not be called upon by the Police unless the need is considered sufficiently great. We will normally only be called to search in bush or mountain country, including the snowfields, where our skills are used to best advantage.
We will not be called to help in any case involving criminal investigation or, under normal circumstances, to find the body of a person known to be dead, but rather the humanitarian one of assisting where a person may be lost, injured or distressed. Occasionally, however, the lost person will be found dead, in which case we may help to recover the body.
Speed and ease of call-out are essential. The rapid availability of trained BSAR volunteers is usually a key element in a successful remote area search.
Contact with BSAR is through the Club Delegate to the BSAR Committee. It is your responsibility to know who your Club Delegate is and to keep in touch. Club Delegates will notify members of changes in BSAR policy and generally keep members abreast of activities such as practices.
Relevant personal details are recorded on the Membership Application Form. If these details change at any stage, you must notify your Club Delegate immediately. Most important are contact details, but do not overlook other information such as the gaining or expiration of a First Aid Certificate.
Your Club Delegate will contact you annually to confirm that your details are current.
Leave details of the Club Contacts with family before heading out on a search. Then, if some emergency makes it necessary that a member be contacted in the field, family members can be put in touch with the PLO handling the search. Discourage enquiries being directed to police. Victoria Police is a very large organisation and it is most unlikely that information of the detail required will be readily available. BSAR operates fairly autonomously, so it is much more productive for queries to be directed through our system. The best point of enquiry is the Club Contact.
Occasionally there may be lengthy delays (as much as 24 hours) between the reported finding of lost people and the return of searchers to their homes. This may be due to a long evacuation, time taken for distant searchers to return to base or transport delays. It is also possible that news reports are inaccurate. Members and their families should be aware that only limited reliance can be placed on media reporting of searches.
Your employment circumstances will change from time to time. Most members experience periods when work commitments make it impossible to respond to any search callouts. However, if your long term work circumstances look like preventing a direct involvement in searches, it is best to drop off the list of searchers, and perhaps consider another role, such as Club Contact.
From time to time you may also have a new boss or change jobs. When this occurs it is important to promptly gain the support and understanding of your employer regarding your involvement in BSAR. A callout in the early hours of the morning is not the time to recall that your new boss has never heard of BSAR. Information for employers is included in Chapter 12.
Bushwalkers Search and Rescue has a bi-annual newsletter called Behind the Log. It is currently the only direct communication with each individual member. Other communication avenues are through your Club Delegate and attendance at search practices.
The general form of training for BSAR is through the annual practice weekend. Members are encouraged to attend at least one practice every two to three years. If you have not attended a search or practice recently, please attend the next practice.
Only by keeping the members up-to-date about developments and techniques can BSAR be maintained at a high efficiency. Training is provided in specialist equipment including Police radios, BSAR OPS units and rescue stretchers. These practices offer the only opportunity to test out new ideas and suggestions and try out new people in unfamiliar roles. Practices also provide a good opportunity to get to know fellow members.
Search practices provide opportunities for members to acquire the skills of making and carrying bush stretchers and towing skeds or ski sleds
In the normal course of bushwalking activities be observant, with the idea of developing suggestions on aspects of search and rescue work.
Refer ideas and present comments and suggestions (preferably in writing) to the Convener, BSAR Committee or your Club Delegate. These comments and suggestions, which are always very welcome, can alternatively be submitted during any practice.
In Victoria, BSAR members are covered by the Emergency Management Act (1986). This provides for their compensation if injured or if property is damaged, during both searches and practices, provided they are registered members of BSAR and they have been officially requested to attend the search or the practice. Membership of BSAR is deemed to be registration under the Act.
Non-members attending practices are not covered by the Act. They are, however, most welcome to attend normal practices and would find it beneficial. They may find they are covered by their Club’s insurance.