Harry Bruce's take on emergency beacons in a coronavirus world.
Harry Bruce's take on emergency beacons in a coronavirus world.

Who should foot the bill for unprepared land rescues?

A CONVERSATION I had the other week with local emergency services planted the seed for thought on who should foot the bill when people find themselves in need of rescue.

They weren't talking about those in genuine emergencies such as injury or illness.

They meant those who fancy themselves weekend adventurers with four-wheel-drives fitted with all the bells and whistles but lacking on substance on the inside.

And by that I mean emergency beacons.

One of the more recent instances was just a couple of weeks ago when a car broke down in rugged terrain and in a mobile hotspot.

 

A 4WD – fitted with everything you need including a radio for communicating from black spots – is essential.
A 4WD – fitted with everything you need including a radio for communicating from black spots – is essential.

In some ways, this group had done the right thing - they had made plans with another group about where they were going to meet, had enough food in their 4WD and provisions to last a night, and other essentials to stay warm.

Well done in that regard.

But since they were in a mobile black spot, they couldn't communicate with their mates waiting for them who - rightfully - rang emergency services.

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The broken down 4WD also didn't have a UHF radio - so no fallback method of communication.

Needless to say, there was a search that also drew on the not-for-profit and heroes of the skies organisation, CQ Rescue.

The choppers crew very quickly found the broken down 4WD and ground crews were able to go in and check they were OK.

They were, and there's a happy ending in that regard.

 

Non-members of VMR organisations are asked to pay for their rescues, so should the same apply for land rescues?
Non-members of VMR organisations are asked to pay for their rescues, so should the same apply for land rescues?

But there's an eye-watering cost that goes with sending up the chopper - it runs into the thousands of dollars an hour.

That's a big ask for an organisation that relies on donations and community support.

Then there's the State Emergency Service volunteers or the local police who have to traverse the terrain just for a welfare check that - quite simply - could have been avoided if for a few things.

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One: Better mobile phone reception (granted this is outside the general punter's control).

Two: A UHF radio or some other form of communication not reliant on cell towers.

Three: Pick up a free EPIRB from a local store and take it with you during your trip.

 

Make sure you’re prepared for all scenarios when heading bush.
Make sure you’re prepared for all scenarios when heading bush.

 

Yes, an EPIRB should be used in an extreme emergency just like on boats but have one with you when out bush.

They're available free for rental - just do your due diligence and research it.

You can't go out on the water without one as it is required by law for vessels to have an EPIRB so why should it be any different for land adventures?

And on that point - if you're not a member of the Volunteer Marine Rescue organisation, you have to pay for the tow and rescue.

Why is it different for land rescues?

 

So who should pay for land rescues? Share your thoughts with news@dailymercury.com.au or SMS 0409 499 846



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