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Outdoor enthusiasts encouraged to plan ahead as summer season approaches

Friday, 11 November 2022 10:48:45 AM

The NSW Police Force is urging outdoor enthusiasts to plan ahead and be prepared when embarking on adventures in unfamiliar bushland, following a series of recent rescues involving injured or lost hikers, canyoners and abseilers.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole said it was critical those hitting the great outdoors this summer prioritise their own safety.

“We’re all itching to get outside and explore the incredible pockets regional NSW has to offer, but I’m urging everyone to plan ahead, carry essential items, and keep up to date with the latest weather warnings,” Mr Toole said.

“With extreme recent rainfall across much of the State in recent weeks, trails and tracks are likely to be damaged or susceptible to landslips, so please take care. This is not only about keeping you safe, but also the emergency services crews tasked with responding to these types of incidents.”

Blue Mountains Police Rescue Team Leader, Sergeant Dallas Atkinson, said that it is predicted to be a busy summer season as more people head outdoors for recreational activities.

“If you are planning to explore a National Park or heading out into the bush, you must pay close attention to the weather conditions and ensure you are carrying appropriate safety gear,” Sgt Atkinson said.

“Weather conditions in the region can be unpredictable and change without warning. This year, we have already experienced heavy rain, flash flooding and landslides.

“The reality is that often people will get lost despite their best efforts. It only takes a few simple steps to ensure you are ready for the bush, and it can be the difference between life and death.

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

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

  • T – Take enough food, water, equipment, navigation and first aid supplies.
  • R – Register your trip on the National Parks and Wildlife Service website by completing a Trip Intention Form and tell friends and family when you expect to return.
  • E – Emergency Personal Locator Beacons (PLB)! Install the Emergency Plus app and take a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), or other satellite communication device, to use as a last resort.
  • K – Keep to your planned route and follow the map and walking trails.

So far this year, police have rescued 110 hikers in the Blue Mountains region alone, after they became lost or injured.

In one incident, a satellite emergency device was activated by two lost and hypothermic bushwalkers in the Blue Mountains region about 6pm on Saturday 6 August 2022.

Upon being notified of the alert, police and NSW Ambulance paramedics commenced a search near Mount Tomah, before the pair – a 25-year-old man and 18-year-old woman – were located within the Claustral Canyon.

The hikers were winched to safety by the Toll Rescue helicopter the following day before being treated for hypothermia.

In a separate incident, emergency services were notified after a group of hikers activated a Personal Locator Beacon about 4.15pm on Tuesday 27 September 2022.

The group were three days into a 10-day hiking trip in the Wollemi National Park when a 56-year-old man fell and suffered a severe crush injury to his hand.

Emergency services located the group, and the injured man was airlifted by Toll Rescue helicopter to Liverpool Hospital for treatment.

Sergeant Atkinson said the recent rescues serve as a timely reminder of how vital it is that bushwalkers are prepared and carry appropriate resources.

“This group had embarked on a 10-day hiking trip in the Wollemi National Park three days prior and were fortunately carrying a PLB.

“This was a situation that could have ended very differently had they not had the emergency device which allowed emergency services to locate them without difficulty and extract them without delay.

“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” Sgt Atkinson said.

‘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