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New markers to improve emergency response in parks

Friday 12 October, 2018

Over 200 emergency markers are being installed within the Grampians National Park, Werribee Gorge State Park, Brisbane Ranges National Park, Little Desert National Park and along the Great Ocean Walk, to allow emergency services to locate lost or injured visitors more quickly.

An emergency marker is a sign with a unique alpha-numeric number - for example GNP130 for a site within the Grampians National Park - that allows a Triple Zero call-taker to pinpoint the caller’s exact location in a park or other open public space.

Without specific location information, such as a marker or named picnic ground, it is often difficult for lost or injured visitors to accurately describe where they are within natural bush settings such as a national park.

The additional emergency markers join a number of existing markers at key locations in those parks. In total there will be 150 in the Grampians National Park, 39 along the Great Ocean Walk, 10 in the Brisbane Ranges National Park, six in the Little Desert National Park and 14 in Werribee Gorge State Park.

Parks Victoria has worked with the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA), Ambulance Victoria and Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES), to install emergency markers at key locations within 60 parks across the state.

Parks Victoria is committed to putting safety first, focusing on protecting park visitors while providing world-class nature-based experiences.

Bushwalkers are urged to look out for their own safety when walking in parks. Some simple tips to stay safe include:

  • Plan: Choose an activity that suits your timeframe, fitness, ability and needs.
  • Check park conditions: Visit or call 13 1963 for current park conditions.
  • Pack the right gear: Protective clothing, appropriate footwear, plenty of water, extra food, wilderness first aid kit, map, compass and GPS.
  • Emergencies: In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000). Be aware you may travel out of phone range.
  • Stay in touch: Let friends or family know your plans. Avoid walking alone. Remember there may not be phone reception in all areas of parks.
  • Prepare for adverse weather: What’s the forecast? Are you weather-ready? Check or download the BoM app for forecasts in your area. Conditions can change, so reassess during the day.
  • Be fire aware: Familiarise yourself with bushfire safety information. Check for information on active fires, danger ratings and total fire bans, or download the VicEmergency app to receive customised alerts.
  • Be location aware: Familiarise yourself with who to call in an emergency and where you are in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app to pinpoint your location while out and about.

Quotes attributable to Mark Urquhart, Regional Fire and Emergency Program Coordinator, Parks Victoria

“We identified emergency markers as a way to improve emergency service response during a multi-agency search and rescue learning exercise in the Grampians in late 2016.

“Emergency markers have been in the You Yangs Regional Park and Lerderderg State Park for a number of years, where they have helped reduce response times and allowed injured visitors to receive medical attention more quickly.

“In the Grampians National Park the markers are located on popular walking track intersections and key lookouts – particularly at locations where we know there are a higher numbers of injuries, such as the Wonderland area, MacKenzie Falls, Hollow Mountain, Major Mitchell Plateau and Mount Abrupt. Visitors have already used the new markers to call for medical help, showing how essential they are for visitor safety.

“The end result is faster response times, which leads to better patient outcomes.

“We encourage visitors to look out for their own safety, be aware of their surroundings and wear appropriate footwear and clothing when bushwalking.”

Quotes attributable to Jeff Adair, Manager Emergency Markers, Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority

"ESTA plays a vital role in Victoria, by providing the 24hr-emergency call-taking and dispatch services for police, fire, emergency service and ambulance. The government organisation also manages the provision of advanced, operational communications for Victoria's emergency services.

“One of the many challenges Triple Zero call-takers face is locating callers who are in ‘open spaces' with no set addresses such as beaches, parks and trails. Emergency Markers are designed to pinpoint a caller's exact location during an emergency in public open spaces, or in hard to define places, and ESTA has helped establish close to 3,000 markers across Victoria.

“The reference number on the emergency markers is linked to ESTA's computer-aided dispatch system.

“The code is linked to our database which helps to quickly specify the location, GPS coordinates, road access route or navigational data, all of which assists the speedy dispatch of emergency services.”

Media enquiries
Gareth Rees
0417 067 706

Parks Victoria media centre