Services BSAR Provides

This page is aimed at Police and emergency services who wish to find out more about BSAR NSW and the services it can offer. It is designed to help you know when BSAR NSW can help you when an emergency happens in your area.


BSAR NSW is a specialist remote area search and rescue squad. Under the NSW State Rescue Board it is a Land Rescue Unit, and a Specialist Rescue Unit under the auspices of the NSW State Rescue Board. This means it is not tied to a region but operates state-wide, but only offers services in remote-area search and rescue.

BSAR NSW offers a complete response to remote area search and rescue operations. Our personnel are fit, experienced, trained and accredited in remote area search and rescue techniques and safety. They are self sufficient for up to 72 hours (and longer if necessary) so do not require catering or accommodation. They are skilled and equipped to handle the worst of the Australian weather, from heat to cold, drought to flood – and they know when the conditions are unsafe.

This makes BSAR NSW the ideal organisation to contact for remote area search and rescue operations, such as:

  • Lost, overdue or injured bushwalkers – this is the main task the squad is used for
  • Other people missing in a remote area (children, alzheimer’s patients, suicides)
  • Remote aircraft crashes – both in locating the aircraft and once located in guiding emergency and investigation teams to the crash site.
  • Assisting other emergency services in remote areas, such as remote area fire fighters (note our members are not trained for fire operations).
  • Providing communications in remote areas without the need for repeaters or unreliable satellite phones
  • We can also assist in operations not in remote areas where a coordinated and disciplined organisation is required.

Specific Strengths of BSAR NSW

Our personnel are experienced, fit and accredited to operate in remote areas

Most of our personnel come from bushwalking clubs. As these people are going into the roughest areas in the state for leisure all the time they naturally are comfortable and safe in the bush. This means:

  • They are skilled navigators.
  • They are able to cross rough country, such as finding passes through clifflines, steep ground, canyons or thick scrub.
  • They are fit, and are still walking strongly at the end of a hard day.
  • They have a far lower injury rate in remote areas than inexperienced people.

The squad contains many leaders in the outdoors world – BSAR NSW has, as active members – international mountaineers and antarctic explorers; it has members who have walked across Australia’s deserts. In fact some members of BSAR NSW were involved in the first explorations of some of the more popular canyons in NSW today.

Our personnel are self-sufficient for up to 72 hours, and longer if necessary

Our standard procedure on an operation is to be prepared for 72 hours in the bush, without support. If that endurance is not required we will happily leave the extra gear behind but if it is needed we have it. This means you can send BSAR NSW teams into the field in the knowledge that catering, accommodation and all the other logistics will not stop the operation proceeding.

We use a HF radio system specifically designed for use in remote areas

The radios BSAR NSW normally uses are not limited by line-of-sight. BSAR NSW uses a HF system which operates in a totally different fashion to the traditional UHF or VHF systems. It has two main transmission modes which allow communications beyond line-of-sight:

  • “Ground Wave” has a range of within a few kilometers of the transmitting station. This signal hugs the contours of the ground and can bend around hills.
  • “Sky Wave” relies on transmitting the signal straight up into the sky and using the ionosphere to reflect the signal back down to earth.

BSAR NSW has used this technique to communicate between two stations at sea level, 30km apart with a 1000m high mountain range in between. It replaced a UHF system which relied on a manned UHF repeater on top of the mountain withstanding blizzards and snow!

BSAR NSW also has a UHF system with repeaters if the terrain is milder and allows the use of UHF systems.

BSAR NSW knows how bushwalkers think

BSAR NSW know how bushwalkers think, simply because they are bushwalkers themselves. Experienced bushwalkers know the common mistakes of inexperienced walkers – which means we can immediately suggest some key areas to focus a search.

Trained and accredited

All BSAR NSW personnel are trained, assessed and accredited to do their task. This makes the search and rescue operation as safe and effective as possible.

BSAR NSW, as an affiliate squad of the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA) is part of the VRA’s rescue operator training and assessment system, and is in the process of gaining national accreditation.


BSAR NSW personnel take their commitment to the task seriously. They do their task to the best of their abilities and do not give up as soon as it gets tough.


A BSAR NSW operation has a structure, lead by a BSAR NSW Commander who controls a number of search teams each with a team leader. The BSAR NSW Commander may also lead a team to assist in the running of a base. This structure is well established in the squad and fits in well with other emergency services and Police command structures.

Specialist skills

BSAR NSW also offers specialist skills:

  • Vertical rescue and vertical access
  • Remote area communications