In kindly and candidly sharing a very painful and harrowing ordeal, a club leader has given us some important points to reflect upon. Every time we head out.
In mid-September, Neil Parker (54), an experienced leader for Brisbane Bushwalkers, was conducting a solo recce (reconnaissance walk) of Cabbage Tree Creek near Brisbane, Queensland.
While alone, Neil fell down a 6-metre waterfall, fracturing both his leg and wrist. He then crawled for two days, to reach a clearing, in the hope of a search team finding him. Excruciating.
He did not have a PLB*, and did not leave trip intentions.
It is rare, but sometimes things go wrong.
This article describes the incident: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-18/mt-nebo-bushwalker-crawls-to-safety-after-fracturing-leg-wrist/11522794
Neil’s personal account is well worth a listen:
We encourage you to reflect on Neil’s experiences.
Some of our reflections are:
- Take a PLB*, especially when going solo. Even for short walks. Register it with AMSA.
- Always Leave Trip Intentions with a reliable person.
- That means telling someone your detailed trip plans, and when you are due to return. Plus it means that person calling the police if you haven’t returned at the time you said you would. Always call your responsible person on your safe return.
- Neil is saying the right things in his interview so he is clearly very knowledgeable and experienced. This helped him save himself. So:
- Join a bushwalking club to learn a wealth of invaluable knowledge and experience in all kinds of adventure. For a very low cost! Have a great time discovering new places. and new types of adventure activities.
- Neil didn’t panic and had a good first aid kit.
- He could have also included a sam splint in his kit – it is a much better for dealing with a fracture than walking poles or tree branches.
- Neil demonstrates how important it is to take first aid kits seriously and keep them well-stocked. Even for a short, familiar walk.
- Neil took warm clothes and a space blanket on a short, local walk, in a warm climate. And needed them.
- Consider also a cashmere beanie – superb warmth-to-weight ratio.
- The space blanket kept him warm and could help rescuers see him.
- Regularly replace your space blanket – they can de-laminate over time.
- Neil also took a head torch, his mobile phone and energy-packed snacks. He needed all of these too.
If you haven’t watched it yet, do watch Neil’s personal account:
Pass it on
All outdoor adventures can benefit from Neil Parker’s experience, so please pass this onto them.
We’d also recommend that club committees devote some time to discussing Neil Parker’s experience and insights, and the implications for each club’s risk management.
We advise all club members to put all exploratory (recce) trips on their activities program. This is the minimum requirement for an activity to be covered by our Bushwalking Australia Insurance.
We also recommend all clubs have: (1) a way of recording trip intentions for all activities, (2) a way of checking that all participants have returned from their activities when they said they would, and (3) a person who will call the police if a person/party haven’t returned when they said they would.
We wish you all the best out there. And we wish Neil Parker a rapid and full recovery.
*PLB = Personal Locator Beacon