Frequently asked questions

What skills does a BSAR member need for bush searches? Experience in overnight bushwalking and the ability to navigate off-track.

What skills does a BSAR member need for snow searches? Most winter searches are in the snowfields, so previous snow camping experience is essential. The ability to use snowshoes or skis is highly desirable. Some members choose not to participate in snow searches.

What skills does a BSAR member for steep snow and ice rescues? A relatively small number of BSAR members participate in steep snow and ice rescues. These members have mountaineering and ice climbing experience and equipment.

What gear does a BSAR member need? Under normal circumstances, members attend an incident equipped to spend two nights in the bush or snow. However, most searching is undertaken as day tasks returning to base to camp. Safety clothing and specialist equipment is provided.

Is training available? Training activities cover search and rescue techniques and related skills. Specific training on use of BSAR equipment such as GPS and radios is also provided. Training events are also opportunities to meet and work with people of similar interests.

Is there an age limit?  The lower limit is 18. The upper limit? Fit and capable bushwalkers are almost never too old to join. Our oldest members are 70 somethings.

When are the call outs? Call outs can happen at any time, sometimes late in the evening. This is done through the State Control Centre by SMS, automated telephony and email. When possible, early alerts are sent prior to a confirmed search call out. This allows searchers to consider their availability and make arrangements in the event a search call out proceeds.

Do members have to go? Absolutely not. The decision is entirely that of the individual. Family, work, vacation, injury and sickness are among the factors that will prevent members from responding to a call out.

How does BSAR get to the search area? Members are picked up from designated departure points. Victoria Police provide bus transport to and from search locations. Exemptions may be granted in special circumstances.

How does this work for employers? Much as it does for the CFA or the SES. Prospective members are advised to discuss their possible involvement with their employers before joining and existing members need to have a clear ongoing understanding with their employers. Members are never required to accept a call out, so each member and employer will have their own understanding about when they will be free to accept.