Bushwalkers reminded to be prepared before heading outdoors after recent rescues

The NSW Police Force is reminding outdoor enthusiasts to be prepared before heading into the bush after a series of recent rescues involving injured or lost hikers and canyoners over summer.

So far this year, police have rescued 22 hikers across the state after they became lost or injured in bushland and national parks.

Blue Mountains Police Rescue Team Leader, Sergeant Dallas Atkinson, said summer has been a busy period for police as more people head outdoors for recreation, including bushwalking and canyoning.

“National parks and bushland are natural, unpredictable environments, and the reality is that often people will get lost despite their best efforts,” Sgt Atkinson said.

“We don’t want outdoor adventures to end in tragedy, so we’re encouraging people to be prepared and ‘Think Before You Trek’.

“It takes only a few simple steps to ensure you are prepared for the bush, and it can make the difference between life and death,” Sgt Atkinson said.

The Think Before You Trek bush safety campaign encourages people heading into the bush and national parks to be prepared, with these simple steps:

  • Take enough water, food and first aid supplies
  • Register your trip on the National Parks and Wildlife Service website (trip intention form)
  • Keep to a planned route
  • Install the Emergency Plus application and take a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), or satellite communication device, to use as a last resort

A PLB helped save two lost and dehydrated bushwalkers who activated the device as a last resort in the Blue Mountains last month.

PolAir 2 and Police Rescue commenced a search for the pair after they activated the PLB about 5pm on Sunday 2 January 2022 from near Mount Hay.

A short time later, the bushwalkers – a 41-year-old woman and 42-year-old man – were located by the crew of Pol Air 2, some distance from a walking track near Boorong Crags and severely dehydrated. As it was getting dark, the crew decided to winch the bushwalkers to safety.

The trekkers were then flown to Mount Hay car park, where they were assessed by NSW Ambulance paramedics for dehydration.

Sergeant Atkinson said the rescue serves as a reminder of the importance of being prepared.

“This was a situation that could have ended very differently had they not had a PLB, given their level of dehydration and time of day,” Sgt Atkinson said.

“If you’re prepared, emergency services will be able to locate and rescue you. It’s always a good day for police when we can bring people safely home to their loved ones.”

Other recent incidents of note include:

  • Police received a notification from a GPS tracking device about two lost canyoners at Butterbox Point, Blue Mountains, about 6.10pm on Tuesday 11 January 2022. PolAir and Police Rescue conducted a search for the canyoners, locating the pair soon after. The men – aged 28 and 30 – were exhausted, and with night approaching the crew of PolAir winched them to safety. They were flown to a carpark at Mount Hay and assessed by paramedics, however they were uninjured.
  • About 6pm on Thursday 17 February 2022, police received reports a 59-year-old woman had broken her leg while canyoning with three others at Butterbox Canyon. A NSW Ambulance helicopter winched the woman to safety, and she was flown to hospital in a stable condition. Police Rescue and NSW Ambulance paramedics hiked into the area and located the remaining three people, a woman and man aged in their 50s and a 15-year-old girl. They were uninjured. The rescue party stayed with the group overnight, before everyone was flown out the following day.
  • About 9pm on Monday 3 January 2022, emergency services were called after two women – aged 27 and 24 – and two teenage girls – both aged 16 – became lost while bushwalking at Clover Hill Trail, Macquarie Pass, with only a small amount of food and water in their possession. Police asked the younger woman to install the Emergency Plus application on her phone to provide coordinates for their location. Police Rescue, with assistance from Lake Illawarra Police District, and NSW State Emergency Service (SES), conducted a search for the group, locating them just before 11pm between Clover Falls and Mulagong Falls. They were assessed by NSW Ambulance paramedics but were uninjured.
  • Two bushwalkers contacted police after becoming lost and running out of water near the Wollangambe River at Mount Wilson about 7pm on Friday 31 December 2021. The pair – a 28-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man – provided their coordinates and PolAir 4 was able to locate them atop a ridge. PolAir landed nearby and the pair were brought onboard the aircraft before being flown to a landing site near Mount Wilson Rural Fire Service. They were uninjured.
  • About 3pm on Saturday 1 January 2022, a 52-year-old man was walking along a coastal track in the Royal National Park when he fainted and twisted his ankle at Burning Palms Beach. Lifeguards responded and contacted emergency services. The man was assessed by NSW Ambulance paramedics before being transported by PolAir to the Burning Palms carpark. He was further assessed by paramedics for minor injuries.

‘Think Before You TREK’ is a bush safety initiative between the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Police. For more information on how to be prepared, please visit: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/safety/bushwalking-safety/think-before-you-trek

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