Just another day

Emergency Services personnel rescue a lost birdwatcher

The phone rang just as the sun was rising. Text messages beeped.  I sensed it was going to be one of those days. A day of challenges that would test the response capabilities of the Park Service, the fortitude of our rangers, field officers and administrative support.  A day in which interagency collaboration, unified by a common purpose, would resonate.

A birdwatcher had been reported missing. Lost.

Just days prior, we had placed fire in the landscape, so multiple prescribed burns were underway across the conservation estate, with dedicated crews of professional fire fighters keeping a watchful eye on proceedings. The evening before, as I departed a ‘fire ground’, the smoke haze rose as a setting sun slowly sank beyond the Brindabellas. A remarkable sunset illuminated the evening sky. It had been a big day.

Now, as the new day dawned, ACT Policing took the lead on the search for our missing birdwatcher. A member of our community needed our help. A multitude of resources from across the Emergency Service Agency became available. Highly trained State Emergency Service volunteers offered their time, specialist officers skilled in the art of creating detailed maps from satellite based technology appeared. Passionate police volunteers prepared a hearty meal for the various search parties. Men and women from across the agencies would be combing rugged country that day.  They say an army marches on its stomach. So it is for search parties.

A helicopter was diverted from a nearby activity, taking the search to the air.  This aerial platform guided the ground search.  Scanning across the vast landscape a glimmer of hope was spotted out the corner of a sharp eye. A solitary figure was sighted below. Within the helicopter, euphoria erupted. It was palpable. Raw emotions flowed.  A family would be reunited that evening.

Ground crews soon reached our missing trekker. First aid was rendered. Being lost for three days and two long nights had been a harrowing experience.  With specialists on scene, a medical evacuation was ordered. Our lost birdwatcher, now found, was airlifted to hospital and all involved took a deep breath, taking solace in the knowledge that good old fashioned team work had been triumphant on that special day.

Upon reflection these are the days why we get out of bed, to make a tangible difference touching the lives of many.

Personal Location Beacons (PLBs) are available to hire from the Namadgi Visitor Information Centre. A practical piece of equipment. Next time you are considering venturing into our spectacular natural spaces, take a little bit of insurance.

Brett Mac

Brett McNamara - Regional Manager with ACT Parks & Conservation Service

Brett loves our national parks almost as much as the Gang-gang on his uniform. He is prone to using the word 'majestic' when referring to the bush capital. He loves talking. A lot. His favourite animal is the playful platypus.

Article also appeared in The Chronicle