Bush Search and Rescue Operator

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 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. 

Our 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. 

Operating as one Unit under NSW SES State Headquarters we have members throughout NSW. The Unit Headquarters is located at Rooty Hill in Western Sydney and as membership is geographically spread, training is carried out in concentrated blocks over weekends in remote locations, as well as monthly training nights at the HQ.

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Volunteering type

Assist the NSW Police with searches for missing persons in rugged and remote areas of NSW.

Fitness Requirements

A high level of fitness is required for field operations, tested annually through an Arduous Pack Test and a challenging overnight off-track bushwalk.

You must also demonstrate existing bushwalking skills and experience to operate self sufficiently in untracked wilderness locations for multiple days at a time, in all weather conditions. Tasks include bushcraft, rock scrambling, map and compass navigation, rock-hopping, creek crossings, moving in steep and difficult terrain and the use of hand lines.

Time Requirements

Due to the geographical spread of our members and in the absence of weekly training, our members undertake their ongoing training modules online, in collaboration with their local NSW SES unit and at quarterly training and/or SAREX (Search and Rescue Exercise) weekends. These weekends are held in various parts of the state.

Our members are encouraged to become dual members of their local NSW SES Unit to contribute to their local community as well as participate in searches with BSAR as part of the outdoors community.

Skills requirements

The following training pathway is required:

  • Fundamentals & generic skills
  • Land Search Operations
  • Map and Navigation
  • Participate in Rescue Operation
  • First Aid

Members are also required to have a high level of experience operating self-sufficiently in untracked wilderness locations for multiple days at a time, in all weather conditions.

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