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Emergency Planning

Dependence on communication/emergency alerting systems is no substitute for adequate pre-planning, good bush and navigation skills, appropriate fitness and sound leadership. A bushwalking trip should be based on the participant's skill and experience and a party of sufficient size and strength for the particular venture. These are the basic requirements for safety and enjoyment of the planned bush activity. Such parties should be safe and not require external assistance in all but the most unusual circumstances.

Let someone know before you go

ALWAYS leave a plan and party details with a trusted relation/friend with instructions if you have not contacted them by the due time.

Mobile phones for communications in the bush

Mobile phones can often be used for communications in the bush and other remote areas. It is recommended that parties carry at least one mobile phone.

All mobiles are not equal. Do some research to determine which mobile phone will be the best for the places you are likely to use it.

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) can be carried and used to issue a distress alert via satellite and overhead aircraft in the event an emergency occurs in the field.

Bushwalking Victoria recommends PLBs for bushwalking and other trips into remote areas, noting that they:

  • Can save lives, although they may not be completely reliable in all circumstances
  • Are a last resort in cases of grave and immediate risk to life – not a first resort
  • Are not a substitute for sound leadership and party strength
  • Help to minimise search and rescue efforts and costs
  • Should be registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to assist the search and rescue response

For more comprehensive information on this topic follow this link

Major Accident


Match difficulty of a walk with the ability and experience of the group. Be adequately equipped.


Apply appropriate first aid with resources available. Keep patient warm and as comfortable as possible. Calmly assess the full situation with respect to the seriousness of the injury, the urgency and availability of any external assistance required and the resources of the group. If communication by phone is not possible, a competent subgroup carrying written information regarding the nature of the injury or illness and the detailed location of the party should seek the nearest help.

The police are responsible for all search and rescue operations in Victoria, and should be the first point of contact for assistance in any emergency, including a medical emergency.

Minor Mishaps


New boots should be broken in and tested BEFORE you go bush. Know your feet. Some walkers find blisters are best prevented by wearing two pairs of socks, others pre-tape areas of the foot that are sensitive to rubbing. It is always worth the time to stop to take preventative action before a blister becomes a problem. There are several "artificial skin" preparations available to treat blisters. If fluid in a blister needs to be released, use a needle sterilized in a flame and cover with antiseptic and a dressing.

Bites, stings and other annoying things

Leeches are an unpleasant nuisance rather than a danger. They are generally only found in wet or damp forest areas. In leech infested areas wear clothing to minimize exposed skin and wear gaiters or pull socks over trouser legs. Inspect for freeloaders at rest stops. Leeches can be readily removed with a little salt, or saltwater solution if easier to apply to areas such as the eye. Profuse bleeding may occur but can be easily stopped and there may be irritation or itching a day or two later.

Ticks can be more of a problem, depending on the variety, but are not commonly found in the Victorian bush except in coastal regions and East Gippsland. If walking in scrub in areas known to have ticks, inspect daily for these parasites. Small larvae stage ticks can be killed using a paste of bicarb soda but it is not currently agreed that killing adult ticks with stove fuel or insect repellent is advisable.

Use fine, preferably curved tweezers or a piece of knotted thread as close as possible to the skin to ease out the tick. Take care not to crush or squeeze the body during removal. The source of toxins is removed once the body is removed. The affected area may swell a little and itch for a day or so.

Repellents and anaesthetic creams are useful to minimize the impact of the irritation of bites or stings from ants, sandflies, march flies, mosquitoes, wasps or bees which may be encountered whilst walking in the bush. Individuals who are allergic to particular insects should carry antihistamines or prescribed drugs for their treatment.

Strains and Sprains

A sprain occurs when a joint is forced beyond its normal movement. The chance of a sprain can be reduced by wearing boots with good ankle support and stopping for sustenance or avoiding walking when tiredness increases clumsiness. Adjustable walking poles are becoming increasingly popular, particularly amongst older walkers, to minimize the stress on knee joints particularly during steep descents.

A sprain can be very painful but is not as disabling as a fracture or dislocation. If possible, cool and elevate the injured joint and apply a firm crepe bandage before continuing the walk after a rest. Lighten the load of the injured party, fashion a stick for support and do not rush their progress.

A strain is caused by over-stretching a muscle or tendon and is indicated by pain and a loss of power in the injured area. Treat as for a sprain. A routine of stretching muscles prior to commencing exercise is recommended to help prevent strain.


Cramp is a sudden and painful involuntary tightening of a muscle. It is relieved by manually stretching the affected muscle, and then gently massaging the area, keeping it warm. When bushwalking in hot weather, failure to replace body salts lost through perspiration can result in heat cramps, but are avoided by making sure that when you are drinking a lot of fluid that you maintain an equivalent increase in food intake.

Minor Burns

Cool the burn area immediately in cold water (wet cloth if not possible) and continue treatment for at least 10 minutes.  Do not apply cream or ointment.  Cover with a clean dry dressing.  Any blisters which form should not be deliberately broken.