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The Larapinta Trail is a wilderness experience, defined by remoteness, mountain ranges and extreme temperatures. If you are injured, get sick or some how get knocked out from a fall, your speedy recovery or rescue will entirely depend on what preliminary emergency planning measures you took before starting the walk. Although roads, trailheads and access points are quite near, most evacuations can take anywhere from a couple of hours to more than twelve depending on how you alert rescue agencies, where you are located and whether the rescue attempt extends into the night.
Key Points
Point Always carry a PLB or satphone or both
Point Rescue or evacuation can take anywhere between 2-6 hours
Point Always carry a First Aid Kit and know basic first aid
Point Submit a Trek Plan to NT Parks or to friends.
Point Be prepared to guide rescuers to your location using signalling devices
Point Alice Springs has excellent medical facilities
Point Understand the trail risks and health and safety factors
Emergency Planning Considerations focus on planning and preparing for any medical based emergencies while on the Larapinta Trail. As a general rule, anyone walking the Larapinta Trail should have a basic emergency plan and be adequately equipped and knowledgeable to execute that plan. While the Larapinta Trail is easily accessible and emergency rescue services are excellent, it is reasonable to assume you could be waiting anywhere from 2 - 6 hours for assistance and evacuation. For Priority 1 and Priority 2 (life threatening) situations the first hour will be critical. Always be prepared
Key Emergency Service Numbers
key point National Emergency Number (Free Call) - Dial 000
key point NT Police - 131 444
key point NT Emergency Service- (08) 8952 3841
Ranger Station Contacting Park Rangers in an Emergency
For emergencies only, walkers can contact Park Rangers at Ormiston Gorge and Simpson's Gap. The Park Rangers live in these locations and are private residencies. Note that due to the nature of their work and size of the park, Park Rangers are not always easily accessible
key point Ormiston Gorge: 08 8956 7799
key point Simpsons Gap : 08 8955 0310
Understanding Likely Emergency Scenarios & Conditions
Some of the most likely emergency scenarios on the Larapinta Trail are medical based and include heat exhaustion, dehydration, sunburn, grastro, sprained ankles, back problems, grazes and avulsions. Some of these can complicate and deteriorate rapidly, particularly heat related illnesses. Some, like dehydration, can contribute to further injuries ( i.e. dizziness and fainting causing falls and concussions).
Serious medical situations will require helicopter evacuation. In fact most debilitating injuries and illnesses will require aeromedical evacuation simply because of the vast distances and rough terrain involved. Nevertheless, stretcher evacuations by foot are still an option
Other scenarios include emergency assistance for water resupply, medicine or equipment replacement.
Key Points
key point Always carry a PLB or satellite phone, or both
key point Read our Health and Safety Page for additional information
key point Understand the Risks on the Larapinta Trail.
key point Understand the conditions of the Larapinta Trail
key point Refresh your first aid training for heat related illnesses
key point Be mindful of and be prepared for pre-existing medical conditions
key point Be prepared to wait anywhere from 2-6 hours before rescuers arrive
key point Nightfall complicates rescues significantly
key point Always have a well equipped first aid kit and emergency signalling kit
Developing and Submitting a Trek Plan
Developing a plan and submitting this plan to the Parks Office or to friends is highly advisable. The plan will provide all the necessary key information for rescue agencies to jump start their rescue efforts. Below is a list of what should be included in such plans:
Key Points
key point Sections being walked; in which direction ( W-E or E-W)
key point Itinerary of the trek (Dates, Timings and Locations of your trek)
key point Walking solo, or in a group. How many in the group. Include details of each.
key point Equipment list of each walker; colour of main clothing, equipment, tents
key point Emergency communication devices carried. Details of any GPS tracking
key point How much is being carried
key point How much food is being carried and where the caches area
key point First aid kits and First Aid training and experience levels of hikers
key point Prior medical conditions that rescuers need to be aware of
Larapinta Trail Logbooks
At each trailhead, Section Log Books have been provided by NT Parks and Wildlife Rangers. By accurately entering your details and the date and time of your arrival or departure at that trailhead, authorities will be able to conduct any search and rescue with greater efficiency and effectiveness, as the log books provide authorities with a start or finish point.
Medical Facilities in Alice Springs
Medical facilities in Alice Springs are very good. They service the Alice Springs population of more than 20,000 people all of the surrounding Aboriginal communities, pastoral stations, roadhouses and smaller townships. The main medical facility is the Alice Springs Hospital external_link but there are also a range of GP clinics and other medical facilities such as dentists, physios etc..
Alice Springs Hospital
(08) 8951 7777





External News Links to Larapinta Trail Rescues and Tragedies
external_link Mystery surrounds NT trek death - Channel 9 - 24 Sep 2009
external_link Gastro infection sparks outback rescue - ABC - 22 Sep 2009
external_link 'Beautiful view' calms outback stroke victim - ABC - Jul 2009
external_link Second tourist dies on NT trail - ABC- Oct 2004
external_link Missing walkers found after night spent camping - Sep 2004
external_link Qld girl rescued from Larapinta Trail
external_link Bushwalker Rescued on Larapinta Trail - 23 May 2011
external_link Norwegian tourist rescued on Larapinta Trail - 10 May 2011
external_link Canadian tourist rescued on Larapinta Trail - 13 April 2014
external_link Tasmanian hikers found safe - 31 May 2015
 Initiating an Medical Based Emergency Evacuation
If a medical evacuation by an external agency is required, you will need to make contact with the authorities. How this is done will depend on what communication devices you have, such as a PLB or satphone. Once the assistance for help has been raised, you will need to prepare to make yourself identifiable to the evacuating agency.
Remember, even with a GPS enabled PLB, the radius of pinpoint accuracy is about 100-200m ( and substantially greater without a GPS enabled PLB).  You will need to make your position obvious to the rescuers and you may need to guide them to your location by using a range of different signalling devices.
If a helicopter is evacuating you, don't assume it can land exactly where you are - it could be anyway between a 100m to 1000m because helicopters need exact landing specifications ( i.e. cleared of trees, boulders etc). So be prepared to move. Note: Helicopters will not flight at night.
Key Points
key point Carry out immediate first aid. Stabilise the casualty. Initiate help.
key point Serious emergencies should be initiated by PLB or satellite phone
key point Always mark you location clearly ( i.e. laying out bright clothing etc)
key point Be prepared to guide in help using signalling devices
key point Helicopters will NOT fly at night
key point Helicopters may not be able to land close or nearby. Be prepared to move
  Emergency or Medical Evacuation
The examples detailed below are based on injuries or situations which require immediate and priority based evacuation and/or relying on evacuation by external agencies. Hikers self evacuating (i.e. on their own or within their group etc) will have varying circumstances.
Emergency evacuation and the time it takes will be determined by two main factors: [1] How the evacuation request was initiated and [2] how serious the emergency is. Another critical factor in all emergencies is Time. The time it takes from incident to evacuation on the Larapinta Trail will depend on [1] how you raise the alarm, [2] where you are, [3] whether it is day or night, [4] whether you are alone and [5] the weather conditions.
Remember the agency which receives a PLB distress signal or SPOT SOS message, will not know whether you have been bitten by a King Brown snake or whether you have sprained your ankle. This is in comparison to say a hiker calling on a satphone and explaining the situation and its seriousness.
The difference between these two examples is that if the rescue agencies know what the actual emergency is they can arrive prepared for the situation, administer more effective first aid and execute a more swift evacuation. If they arrive to find the situation more complex ( i.e. like cliff falls, spinal injuries or winch evacuation needs etc) they will most likely need to coordinate the extra resources for such evacuations, which will take extra time, on top of the time it has already taken to get to you. Agencies will ALWAYS respond with a great sense of urgency either way.
All hikers must remember the following point when on the Larapinta Trail: Most injured hikers will wait a minimum of 2-3 hours until they can be located, accessed and/or evacuated. In that crucial time gap, immediate first aid and casualty management will need to be carried out. This is particularly important for serious injuries or illnesses.
Remember, the pinpointing of your location will depend on whether you can be seen or heard, so even though you may have raised the alarm, someone still needs to find you. This can be a lot harder than it sounds, particularly in night time conditions or deep gorges, gullies and windy high ground. Check out the signalling devices.
Helicopter Types used for Larapinta Trail Evacuations
All aeromedical evacuations by helicopter along the Larapinta Trail ( or in Central Australia) are carried out by ANH Alice Springs Helicopters. ANH also provides aerial drop offs and pickups, resupply and private evacuation services for Larapinta Trail hikers.
Bell 206 Jetranger
Robinson R44

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