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Bush Search and Rescue

searching for lost bushwalkers

The NSW Police are responsible for initiating and coordinating all land search and rescue operations in the state such as missing or injured bushwalkers, canyoners and climbers. They may choose to call in the services of the NSW SES Bush Search and Rescue (BSAR) to assist in the search.

NSW SES Bush Search and Rescue (BSAR) is a specialist Unit of experienced bushwalkers, canyoners and rock climbers, experienced in operating in remote or wilderness areas. Their history can be traced to Bushwalking NSW Inc., where they began in 1936 as part of the Search and Rescue arm of the Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs. Formerly known as the Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad (BWRS), with strong historical links to Bushwalking NSW and the VRA, the highly skilled NSW SES BSAR is now a specialist state-wide unit under the NSW State Emergency Service.

Their unique skills and high levels of fitness are typically called upon for search and rescue operations in areas without tracks, trails, mobile phone or GRN coverage or access to other resources. They can operate in the field for up to three days without external support. Field teams are supported by operations personnel at the command post who manage logistics, transport, administration and incident management. 

BSAR members are generally passionate outdoors people who join with an existing understanding of self-sufficiency, wilderness navigation, remote area first aid and off-track bushwalking experience. They are then trained in search techniques, remote communications and other relevant units of competency. They also have extensive knowledge of the remote areas of NSW as they are experienced bushwalkers, canyoners or rock climbers – they know the areas people often get lost, know the mountain passes and the tricky pinches. This knowledge is invaluable when assisting Police in searching for missing persons. More details and how to join can be found on the SES NSW website.

BSAR host NavShield, an annual navigation rogain event, which brings together emergency services personnel, bushwalkers and regainers, to participate in a 1 or 2 day, off-track, map and compass challenge.