Another sad story in the media after an elderly gentleman died, and his friend was hospitalised after they became bogged in a valley on a prospecting trip near Broken Hill.
Details are sketchy, but the men’s families raised the alarm after they failed to return from a day trip, and a search was commenced the following day. The men had sufficient food and water for their trip, however became bogged on Wednesday. They were not found until after lunch on Thursday. Whilst medical authorities will investigate whether the deceased man had a pre-existing medical condition, the point is that they were stuck in a remote area, requiring an extensive search to locate them.
If they had been carrying a distress beacon or other form of communication, they would have been able to either communicate their situation to someone who could render assistance, or alert search and rescue authorities would have been able to go straight to their location. Unfortunately it may have not have been enough to save the life of the deceased man, however it would have made the rescue of the other gentleman more timely.
When should I call for help?
This is a very contentious question – and open to interpretation.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority states “Distress beacons should only be used when there is a threat of grave and imminent danger. In the event of an emergency, communication should first be attempted with others close by using radios, phones and other signalling devices. Mobile phones can be used but should not be relied upon as they can be out of range, have low batteries or become water-damaged.” (http://beacons.amsa.gov.au/usage.html)
There is a clear expectation that you should attempt to communicate the nature of your emergency to others. The question is how should you do this.
Camping Communication – a guide for getting help in remote areas explains the various means of communication available to you and when to use them. My hope with this book is to avoid any more stories like the one above. It can be purchased for download here: http://campingcommunication.com/ or for e-readers here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/286844
The full media articles can be read here: