About the Squad

How BSAR Operates

The squad was formed on the basis that the best people to search for missing bushwalkers are experienced bushwalkers.  They understand the bush, they know how to navigate in difficult terrain, they know the hidden passes and the common mistakes walkers make while trying to move through difficult country.

As a specialist land search and rescue organisation, our membership includes a wide range of skills and expertise in three key areas:

Field Members

Our Field Members make up the majority of our squad. They are experienced bushwalkers and canyoners, who can travel through rough terrain safely and quickly, day or night, in any weather.  All searchers hold a current  First Aid Certificate (with many members also being Remote Area First Aid or Wilderness First Aid trained) and are self-sufficient in the bush for up to two days and one night (with reserves for a further 24 hrs) on any operation.

Skills amongst Members include:

  • bushwalking and wilderness exploration/navigation
  • land search and rescue
  • remote area first aid
  • nationally recognised First Aid qualifications
  • vertical rescue technical operations
  • canyon search and rescue
  • rock climbing
  • work around helicopters
  • alpine work

Search Base Operations

  • Our search incident base personnel are experienced land search operation managers with years of experience.  They use specially prepared computerised incident logging and reporting software to keep track of search parties from reports.
  • Radio technicians and operators operate a wide range of radio communication systems including UHF, VHF and HF. Using special techniques the Squad can communicate over long distances and/or into deep narrow gorges or canyons. They regularly work in cooperation with VRA sister squad, WICEN.

Non-Field Members

  • Administration and Support
  • Marketing
  • Training

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Wilderness Rescue Proficiency

Our strength comes from the bushwalking clubs who, throughout their activities, train their members in bush sense and skills, as well as building up their fitness.

All our members are experienced in ‘bushcraft’ skills (finding a path through cliff lines, river crossing, rough camping, cooking, fire lighting, etc) and many have exceptional bush navigation skills.

To enable our members to function effectively in the bush and increase their skills, we hold regular training days and weekends.

We also hold familiarisation trips for members, which are basically bushwalks or canyon trips, that give our members the chance to familiarise themselves with wilderness areas where they may not normally go.  The emphasis on all these activities is that they are fun to participate in, while enhancing the high skill level that is required by the Squad.

Three activities a year are conducted to train and refresh bushwalkers in wilderness rescue operations. These include:

  • search techniques
  • first aid
  • stretcher hauling
  • radio usage
  • navigation
  • bush safety
  • river crossing

Within the BSAR, there is also a small core of dedicated rock climbers/canyoners, referred to as The Rock Squad, who perform those tricky jobs such as cliff  and canyon rescue which are beyond the skills of the average bushwalker. The members of this squad hold nationally recognised vertical rescue qualifications, and regularly train with other VRA organisations who are also accredited for vertical rescue.  A number of our members are also qualified Instructors for this training.

Training Proficiency

The best personnel to use in remote area land search operations are those with knowledge of search operations combined with good bushcraft skills and fitness.  Experienced bushwalkers already have the necessary bushcraft and fitness, so BWRS trains its members in search operations to make a skilled and flexible search and rescue operator.

While the training takes some time and significant effort to complete, BWRS believes achieving operational member status is a recognition of a high level of bush and search & rescue skills. This means that person is recognised as ready to help in future search and rescue operations.

The BWRS training system has been designed to give members the skills to operate safely and effectively in the field during search and rescue operations.

The training offered by the squad conforms to standards set by relevant government agencies:

  • NSW State Rescue Board
  • NSW Police
  • NSW Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA)

Training and assessments are done using competency based training principles.

Assessment includes both practical and theory, with most emphasis on practical assessment.

Members are classified according to their training and experience. Membership levels include:

  • Trainee
  • Base Operator
  • Search Team Member
  • Search Team Leader
  • Search Manager

Each level also has several electives available.  Training options may include vertical rescue, helicopter and swift water operations.