Bag of tricks

Sunday 20 March, 2011

Managing enormous and remote reserves is hardly risk free. What if something goes wrong? Enter our new 'safety grab bag'.

Managing nearly a million hectares of land across Australia has its perils. Just ask our reserve managers, who are often stationed on remote properties across the country and who work in a range of temperatures and conditions.

Safety grab bagThe safety grab bag provides reserve managers with a quick and easy solution to staying safe on your reserves.

Vehicles can break down or get bogged, wildfires can threaten, storms can bring down communication lines and flood roads, the list could go on forever.

Remote work environment 

Bon Bon Station Reserve is in the South Australian outback. It’s the size of Sydney, stretching 70 km north to south and 30 km east to west. It’s also both home and office for reserve manager Glen Norris.

Instead of negotiating snarling traffic on his way to work, Glen has to contend with Bon Bon’s bumpy dirt tracks. When out in the field it’s not buses and trams he keeps an eye out for but potentially deadly snakes and stakes that could take out a tyre.

In the past, if Glen’s vehicle broke down or he got stuck, his only option would have been to hike long distances back to the homestead. These remote reserves aren’t the kind of places you want to be stranded.

'Safety grab bag'

Al Dermer models the safety grab bagRegional Manager Al Dermer models the safety grab bag.

Dave Whitelaw is Bush Heritage’s National Operations Manager and is responsible for making sure our staff stay safe in the field. He’s just overseen the rollout of a ‘lone worker communications protocol’, which – with the help of Bush Heritage supporters like you – will ensure that if any of our staff, volunteers or contractors get into a sticky situation, help will only be a phone call away.

At the heart of the new protocol is a ‘safety grab bag’, a snug little daypack that provides workers with the tools they need to stay safe in the bush, that is small enough to throw into the back of a car or ute.

It has a first aid kit, water bottle, safety blanket, ration pack, satellite phone and emergency SPOT transmitter, which at the click of a button, can notify Bush Heritage that a field worker has safely finished work for the day, or put out an alert signal if they are in trouble.

Improves safety

‘The grab bag ramps up our standard safety procedures to make sure we are on top of what we do,’ says Dave. ‘It gives us two-way communication, a backup through the SPOT device, and ready access to emergency responses.

‘It also gives our staff the ability to survive in the bush until help arrives through the provision of emergency water and food rations, and the ability to shelter if they need to spend a night in the scrub.’

Bush Heritage has never had a situation arising out of serious injury and our new grab bag offers another layer of safety to this excellent record. Bush Heritage supporters can rest assured that the people you support in the bush will come home safe, ready to do their important work again tomorrow.

By John Sampson

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