Welcome to Bush Search and Rescue Victoria (BSAR). The principal aim of this manual is to introduce members to their roles and responsibilities within the organisation.

It is also intended that this manual provide some background of the history, structure, administration and operational methods so that the role of the individual is understood within a broader context.

Bushwalkers are invariably free spirits who work more effectively when they thoroughly understand the group of which they are a part and the methods they are expected to employ. The organisation of informed and motivated people into small groups in which the ideas of the individual are readily heard seems to be much more effective on searches than a more military-style model with a few “generals” and many relatively uninformed “troops” doing just what they are told.

BSAR are one of several organisations Police call on to assist with searches in remote areas. Each organisation is called because of the particular expertise it brings. The State Emergency Service often provides searchers, skilled drivers with four-wheel drive vehicles and sometimes horses. In alpine areas in winter, resort-based ski patrollers are used.

Local Police and land management authority staff (e.g. National Park rangers) will often have begun searching before Bushwalkers Search and Rescue volunteers arrive. Each of these organisations has its own specialty and together we provide the resources necessary in most large searches.

BSAR is fortunate to be able to call on the services of so many skilled people. The entry requirements ensure that all members are experienced bushwalkers and many bring additional outdoor (ski touring, mountaineering) and other skills into the organisation. Thus this manual assumes these personal skills and concentrates on the more specific aspects of search and rescue.

To many outsiders, searching seems to be a fairly random process and its success is seen to be largely a matter of luck. There is no doubt that luck does play a part, but searchers make their own “luck” to a large extent. Search organisers take account of many factors, but probably the most important one is the knowledge of how a large number of lost people behaved in the past. Other factors include the background and experience of the lost person, knowledge of likely survival times and the competence of the searchers.

It can therefore be seen that, while the process remains one of “playing the odds”, well-run searches weigh the odds very heavily in the lost person’s favour.

Searchers on the 1952 Marysville search


Procedures, structures and other details described in this manual are current at the time of writing, but may change over time. Members should keep up-to-date through their Club Search and Rescue Delegate.

Last Updated on February 17, 2021