Community rallied for lost child

By DARREN COYNE

RESCUE groups searching for an 11-year-old boy on Mt Warning this week were inundated with offers of help from the community, according to State Emergency Service Tweed controller Brian Sheahan.

"Personally I was inundated during the two days with about 50 phone calls from people and associations wanting to come out and assist in the search, prepare meals, or generally help out," Mr Sheahan said.

"It was very heartwarming and I would suggest that if people really want to get involved then they should join one of the volunteer services."

About 80 people were involved in the search for Albert Davis, a student from the Silkwood Steiner School at Upper Nerang on the Gold Coast. Albert became lost from his school group while taking a shortcut.

Mr Sheahan said the majority of times SES volunteers were called to the mountain was to deal with people who had injured themselves, although people going off the track and getting lost were also a problem.

"Many people underestimate the mountain. They go up poorly equipped when they should carry a whistle, have proper clothing, water and food. You wouldn't' want to stop people from climbing it, because they come from all over the world, but they should be prepared," he said.

Those sentiments were echoed by James Law, the acting Tweed district area manager of National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Mr Law said although the mountain was well signposted, people often underestimated the difficulty of the walk and needed to be much more prepared.

"That's especially so with groups with children. There needs at least to be one adult at the front and one at the back at all times."

Mr Law also warned against people trying to take shortcuts between looped sections of the track.

"If you drop off at the wrong point thinking you will intersect the track you can miss and be in all sorts of trouble," he said.

"There's some steep drops there and people have to exercise caution, be sensible and not leave the track. And if you have children you must supervise them at all times."

Mr Law reminded climbers that being irresponsible not only put their own lives in danger, but also the lives of the people who turned out for rescues.

"It was one of our field staff and a VRA chap who found the boy and they had to go through some very rough country and put themselves in danger," he said.

Tweed Volunteer Rescue Association co-ordinator John Gracie said yesterday praised the co-ordinated response from the various rescue groups, including police, ambulance, SES, VRA, NPWS and the Rural Fire Service.



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