Tag Archives: helicopter rescue

Bushwalking Skills | Making a Bushwalking Aide-memoire

Do you lead bushwalks? Thought about carrying an aide-memoire  for emergencies? What resources will you need?

In the nineties, when I was actively upgrading my bushwalk leadership qualifications, I kept an aide-memoire to help me remember the key points of bushwalking for in-the-field examinations. This was initially kept in several “Granny’s brag books”,  4″ x 6″ photo albums with the cardboard stiffeners removed and with the individual plastic pockets sealed, then progressed to a Sharp Organiser, then to a Palm PDA and finally to my Nokia Smartphone, before being archived to a wiki (see link above). To keep the number of “album” pages to a minimum, the text was reduced to 7 pt.

The first aid was collated from Senior First Aid courses which I did with St John’s and the Red Cross, with additional information added from wilderness first aid courses and books I had read.

 Disclaimer: Although I culled information, which I knew was out-of-date, when I first set up this wiki, I have not updated the first aid information for the last few years, and as some things change every few years eg snake bite and EAR, the aide-memoire needs to be checked with an up-to-date first aid manual.

For many years, I carried this information, in note form, as a resource for emergencies, especially when leading bushwalks to remote areas of Australia. You might find such a concept useful, and perhaps be able to use the topic outline as  a worthwhile starting point.

If I was making one today, I would add it as a pdf to my Smartphone, which I usually carry with me. You could of course use your camera-equipped smartphone to copy relevant pages from books and save as a photo album. If you carry a Kindle with you, for your light reading, you have another alternative. However, in a pinch, I think “Granny’s brag book” would prove to be the most reliable of them all!

Recently I have added some excellent  leadership articles by Rick Curtis (Director, Outdoor Action Program), which no longer seem to be online at his website. This material is the Group Development and Leadership Chapter from his Outdoor Action Program Leader’s Manual. You can find some of the more useful articles in the sidebar to the right, under Bushwalking Resources, and the rest in my wiki. The text may be freely distributed for nonprofit educational use. However, if included in publications, written or electronic, attributions must be made to the author. Commercial use of this material is prohibited without express written permission from the author. Copyright © 1995 Rick Curtis, Outdoor Action Program, Princeton University.

I’d love to know if you carry an “aide-memoire”, what type and what it contains.

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Planning a Climb of Mt Aspiring, New Zealand | Flying In and Out

How do I organise a helicopter into and out of Mt Aspiring? Where does the helicopter land? How much will it cost for hut fees and landing permit? Where do I get more information?

Helicopter to and from Mt Aspiring

DOC Wanaka Advice

A ‘One-off Landing permit’ is required for your flight in and out of the Mt Aspiring National Park (landing at Bevan Col with the assumption you will be staying at Colin Todd Hut).

Note that unless you are using your own helicopter, there is an administration fee of $109.30 plus an additional crown fee of $17.30 per passenger.

Depending on which company you choose to fly with, the one-off landing permit cost may or may not be included in their transport price so it pays to ask them when you are arranging your flight. Note these permits are non-refundable but that they are date transferable if you call no later than the morning of your scheduled flight (for example if the weather is too stormy).

To stay in Colin Todd or French Ridge huts there is a fee of $20 per person per night (unless you are an alpine club member – in this instance it would be $10 per person per night). Identification is required.

Further information can be obtained from:

1. Mt Aspiring National Park Visitor Centre
Department of Conservation—Te Papa Atawhai
PO Box 93 | Ardmore Street | Wanaka 9305

DDI: +64 3 443 7660
VPN: 5730
Fax: +64 3 443 8777


2. Aspiring Helicopters

Cattle Flat Station
Mt Aspiring Road
Phone:     +64 (03) 443 7152
Fax:     +64 (03) 443 7102
Postal:     P.O. Box 168, Wanaka
Email:     info@aspiringhelicopters.co.nz

Related Postings

Mt Aspiring

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Bushwalking Rescue: Emergency Evacuation by Helicopter

Have you ever needed a helicopter rescue? Ever raised the alarm using your (personal locator beacon) PLB or marine EPIRB? What can you do to make the landing or winching site safer? How can you attract attention and give signals to a circling aircraft? What information do you need to provide?

Well I’m fortunate and have never needed a helicopter rescue, neither has anyone in any of my groups. Nor have I ever had to raise the alarm using my PLB (personal locator beacon) or EPIRB, but I have walked in lots of areas in Tasmania where this is a regular occurrence, either due to poor weather, bushfire or injury.

On occasions, I have seen a helicopter circling and wondered whether someone is in trouble. On one occasion I was approached on a track by Parks and Wildlife staff who had been in radio contact with a rescue helicopter which had been circling and were trying to locate a person who had set off an EPIRB (emergency beacon) and then left the spot, tuning off their beacon when they left.

On most of my walks into isolated areas I have taken an EPIRB ( no longer licensed), now replaced by a PLB. Walking in the Gammon Ranges and further north I have taken a VHF radio for communication with nearby homesteads. Along the south coast and south west coast of Tasmania,  I have taken a marine radio for communication with passing fishing boats. Of course I always have my signalling mirror and mobile phone with me!

Alerting Rescue Services

Modern technology has provided us with several devices

NB Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife has PLBs for hire

    Alert Detection

    Radio distress beacons operate on 406 MHz with a 121.5 MHz transmission feature being used for final stage homing.
    NOTE: After 1 Feb 2010, old analogue EPIRBs and PLBs operating on 121.5 MHz are no longer licenced for use.
    The technology of distress beacons is so advanced that the location of the boat, aircraft or individual in distress can be calculated to a search area of as little as 110m with a digital 406 MHz beacon, if encoded with GPS.
    A digital 406 MHz beacon can relay much more information than simply the distress location.  When registered properly with AMSA, 406 MHz distress beacon can provide the RCC Australia with information such as the registration details of the aircraft, vessel or vehicle as well as emergency contact names and contact numbers.   This may allow further information to be gathered relating to the type of craft, survival gear carried and the number of people on board etc.  REGISTRATION IS FREE.
    After defining the search area, aircraft or other rescue craft rely on homing equipment to locate the beacon’s exact position.
    It is important that once a beacon is switched on in a distress situation you should not switch it off until rescue has been affected or you are advised to by the rescue authority. ”  Australian Marine Safety Authority

      Traditional methods include

      • lighting signal fires: three fires in a triangle for an emergency.  Have green vegetation handy to create smoke.
      • signaling with a mirror:  lightweight signaling mirrors with a hole in the middle to assist location are cheap
      • laying out markers and recognised symbols

      Ground to Air Signals

      • V require assistance
      • X require medical assistance
      • SOS: repetition of 3 signals, separated by a minute

      The following universal signals  are for strip signals, recommended to be built from rocks or tree branches or dug in the ground and are designed to be seen from the air. Make your signal big ( 6 -10m  by 1 m, with at least 3 m between symbols) so that it can be seen from a distance, and select a highly visible location.

      Wilderness Survival Forum

      N – No, Negative
      Y,  or A – Yes, Affirmative
      A square – require map and compass

      Preparing the landing area

      • Chopper can only descend vertically 15 metres
      • Select landing spot with clear approach and exit into the wind, clear 25m diam landing spot with a further 5m no more than 60 cm high, no more than 10% slope.
      • Mark landing area with a large H
      • Streamers or smoke to mark wind direction
      • Clear the landing spot of loose debris. Eye protection should be worn.
      • Approach helicopter from front & lower side on slope only when signaled.

      Abandoning Camp

      If you have to abandon camp, leave clear direction markers to show where you have gone and continue to mark the track, so you know if you have doubled back.


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      This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.