7 May 2007

Stay put. Do not eat the grass.


Just before Easter I got my first BSAR callout since signing up about a year ago. It turned out to be a great dry-run - we did everything except actually searching. The timeline went something like this: (times are very rough)
  • 4pm: SMS from BSAR alerting of the possible search. Commence packing gear/food.
  • 9pm: Call from VRA, the search is on. I'm all set.
  • 4am: Sal drops me at the police bus in Brunswick.
  • 8am: We arrive on site, divide into teams of three.
  • 9am: Search briefing; our team gets a spur that looks much nicer than the various scrubby gullies assigned to the other teams.
  • 10am: 4WD drops us at the start of our walk in farmland near the creek.
  • 10:10: Call received - search subject has been found in good condition.
So did we contribute to the search? Well, yes - it's a numbers game. The more search area you can cover, the more likely the subject is to be found. My chances of ever being in a search party that finds the subject are vanishingly small, and that's fine - it's still an interesting and worthwhile activity.

Anyway the main point of this post is to offer some advice on what to do if you become lost in the bush, especially if someone knows you're out there:
  1. Stay put.
  2. Do not eat grass.
William must have mentioned on his return that he'd had a nibble of some watercress while wandering around, and a bright spark at The Age took this as license to report that his survival was made possible only by eating grass. Yeah good one. This is true in much the same way that the searchers survived only by eating M&Ms.

The energy (if any) gained by eating watercress was not nearly sufficient to make up for the energy he spent walking around unwittingly dodging the police. It's unclear just how many times they must have crossed paths on the day before we were called out. A search operates by eliminating areas in order of likelihood. William was found by a vehicle that was passing along a track that had already been eliminated early in the search.

Of course everyone was very happy to see him found and in such good shape, and nobody begrudges that he might have made the search team's job easier.

By the way, if for some reason you are lost and you have no reason to believe that anyone will come looking for you any time soon, then you will have to get yourself out. Don't panic, your chances are probably really good unless you happen to be standing in the snow/rain/creek in your jeans and T-shirt. Make a plan to walk towards an object that is shaped like a line, like the road or the ocean. But nobody reading this blog would ever put themselves in that situation.

More reports on the search.

1 comment:

Chuck said...

The only SAR I did was for a mentally unstable guy who didn't want to be found.

Of coruse, we didn't know that until he showed up late the next day looking for something to eat and telling fibs about where he'd been.

And no, it wasn't one of Sal's friends.
;)