Alpine emergency response can look very different to a typical urban request for assistance. Bright SES Unit were called to an Ambulance Assistance on Saturday 26 November 2016 at 5pm.
The four kilometre trek across Razorback in Victoria’s High Country involved four SES volunteers, two paramedics and an Ambulance Community Officer (ACO).
“We responded with four people and a vehicle and took a basket stretcher, spine board and attached the stretcher to a stretcher wheel,” explained Deputy Controller, Graham Gales.
“Somewhat removed from your typical urban SES unit response, we do a lot more assist ambulance in remote and wilderness areas,” explains Graham. “We’re more likely to rescue a paraglider stuck in a tree.”
Affected by dehydration, the hiker had stumbled and injured their knee. Checked on scene by the Victoria Ambulance paramedics, the hiker was well enough to walk out on her own accompanied by friends and the rescue team.
Bright SES Unit respond to eight to 10 rescues per year in the alpine and sub-alpine areas. Rescues can result from injuries or people ignoring signs.
Summer advice for hikers
Graham advises people travelling to the alpine region to prepare for all conditions. And carry enough water for long treks.
“While it doesn’t feel as hot up here, you can lose a lot of water through sweat, particularly in the summer months,” he says.
Anyone can get caught out, even the most experienced outdoor hikers. Follow these safety tips for your next wilderness experience:
- Check weather forecasts and warnings via Bureau of Meteorology and VicEmergency
- Contact local parks about conditions, tracks, river and stream levels and possible fire danger
- Never travel alone in remote areas (a group of three is considered a safe minimum)
- Choose walks and activities that match abilities, stamina and fitness
- Tell a friend where you’re going to and your expected return (provide them with a map of the park, your intended route, and vehicle registration number)
- Use a topographic map and compass (and know how to use them)
- Drive carefully and beware of wildlife crossing roads
- Pack enough food and water, plus a torch, sunglasses, sunscreen and a good first aid kit
- Pack clothing for all weather conditions (dramatic changes are common in alpine region)
- Be aware of the causes, symptoms and treatment of hypothermia via St John Ambulance Australia
- Carry a space blanket in case of an emergency
- Be aware that mobile phone coverage is often limited in remote areas, consider taking a satellite phone or personal locator beacon
- In an emergency dial Triple Zero (000) to access police and emergency services.
Discover what it takes to become an SES volunteer.
Photo credits: Graham Gales, Les Doyle, James Sadgrove