Emergencies on Walks
IF LOST OR UNCERTAIN OF LOCATION
With the advent of ubiquitous mobile phones with in-built GPS capability and mapping apps that display your exact location, it is almost unthinkable that a group of Shoalhaven Bushwalkers could ever get lost these days. In the highly unlikely event that you get lost and everyone's mobile phone stops functioning at the same time, follow the procedures below ...
• FIND A NAVIGATOR (hopefully yourself) - someone with a paper map and a compass who knows how to use both!
• DON’T PANIC – it can happen to anyone! In most cases the worst outcome will be an unexpected night out and some embarrassment.
• STOP and put the brain into gear. Think back to your last known location and retrace the journey in your mind. Look for landmarks and avoid trying to make the terrain fit the map.
• DISCUSS YOUR OPTIONS. Act calmly. A little humour goes a long way – and you WILL laugh about this later.
• PLAN before action. Aim for a "catching feature" on the map – a road, escarpment or creek – rather than a point. Do not press on without a coherent plan of action.
IF SOMEONE IS INJURED / EXHAUSTED
• Check if anyone on the walk has special medical skills – nurse, doctor, first aid qualifications.
• Assess injuries - and render first aid.
• Evacuate or await rescue? Err on the side of caution. Walk patient out only if injuries allow and he / she agrees.
If outside help is required:
• Try mobile phone (000). "Emergency +" app is recommended, and "What 3 Words".
• If no phone coverage – 1 or 2 people stay with patient. Most experienced walkers – minimum of 2 – go for help.
• If situation warrants i.e. is life-threatening – activate a PLB - Personal Locator Beacon.
Information required by rescue authorities:
• Location – coordinates (inc. map name) and distinguishing landmarks.
• Condition of patient – conscious / unconscious, suspected injuries.
• Time of injury or accident
• Landing place for helicopter? – Minimum cleared area 40 x 40 metres
• Mirror, reflective material (e.g. space blanket), whistle for ground parties.
• 3 of anything e.g. fires. Smoke also helps to indicate wind direction.
• If helicopter arrives follow instructions and keep clear. Tail rotors kill.
IF SOMEONE WON’T CONTINUE
It may happen that a walker simply does not wish to proceed and believes he/she can make it out alone or will be able to hitch a ride from their present position. The leader cannot accept this offer, but must ensure that the walker is delivered into safety before continuing with the walk. The leader is ultimately responsible for the safety of all the people who begin the walk.