By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
Adventure seekers can experience all the thrills the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region has to offer knowing their guides are well trained in up-to-date safety techniques.
Guides from the Jenolan Caves rescue team, Lithgow TAFE, Blue Mountains Adventure Company (BMAC) and three other outdoor adventure companies, Blue Mountains City Council, National Parks & Wildlife Service and emergency service representatives gathered at Mitchell’s Ridge Lookout at Mt Victoria recently in a joint training exercise to refresh on rescue techniques.
This time guides brushed up on self-rescue techniques, rescuing a stranded abseiler, tandem abseiling, rescuing an unconscious abseiler and preparing patients for extraction.
The training day was organised by Blue Mountains guide Matthew Lee, who said while guides rarely had to use rescue skills, it was crucial they were up-to-date and practiced should something go wrong.
“Safety is paramount to all adventure companies in this area,’’ he said.
“We risk manage so there is no cause for rescues but very occasionally there is a need for first aid and rescue skills on a bush track or a cliff and we want our guides to be confident they have the knowledge and practical training when needed.’’
BMAC owner and Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism director representing the adventure tourism sector Dylan Jones said: “These training days are also great for forging positive relationships among everyone in the industry, not least the emergency service personnel who come to our aid on the rare times there is a problem and council and NPWS staff who manage the sites we use.’’
In the unlikely event something does go wrong on a track or a cliff, adventure guides are trained to position an injured or unwell person into a safe place, stabilise them if possible and prepare them for extraction by emergency service personnel, usually the Police Rescue.
Most guides working in the Blue Mountains have high levels of vertical rescue and wilderness first aid qualifications.
Mr Jones praised Blue Mountains City Council, which owns the Mitchell’s Ridge site, for its extensive upgrade and beautification of the lookout, adding large boulders to prevent cars from approaching the unfenced cliff line and improving the sandstone and wood staircase to the bottom of the valley.
Such improvements at Mitchell’s Ridge Lookout and other sites within the more than 10,000ha of council land are funded by the council’s environmental levy, which is due for renewal in 2015, and commercial licence fees paid by groups such as adventure companies which use council-owned sites.