When shit gets real, unpacking a critical incident.

Mr Mark Cartner1, Mr Will Dobud2
1Queensland Police Service, Bundaberg, Australia; 2Director of True North Expeditions, Adelaide, Australia


In July 2018, Senior Constable Mark Cartner was leading a five-day 100 kilometre expedition with school students as part of a crime prevention, child protection initiative he has been running since 2015. While crossing a sand blow in southeast Queensland’s Cooloola National Park, one of the supervising teachers collapsed with severe back pain. By utilising the skills learnt from 20 years as an emergency responder, the teacher was stretcher carried to shelter using an improvised stretcher, triaged, and prepped for helicopter evacuation. Following the event, the students were able to self-evacuate to a place of safety.

This workshop will provide practical advice to deal with emergency situations and how to ensure your response is timely, lawful, and withstands scrutiny. Additionally, this discussion will address how adventure-based facilitators can ensure the therapeutic safety of the remaining participants during potentially traumatic situations.

This critical incident was well documented with video recording of the helicopter evac, recording of the triple 0 call, screen shots of text messages. All will be presented and evaluated to place our participants in the drivers seat as we draw lessons from this incident.

Group discussions will include broader lessons gleaned from this incident, challenging us to ask when is risk empowering bylinking with the broad literature around what works to make therapeutic programs more effective.

Videos from past students and international program leaders will be shared to encourage discussion professionalism both in the prevention and response to critical incidents, and implications for those working in the outdoors to incorporate realistic risk management and be constantly mindful of the wellbeing of those in our care.

MARK CARTNER – Senior Constable
Mark has over 20 years as operational police officer. He has spent most of his career as a Detective investigating child abuse in Cairns, Bundaberg and remote communities in Cape York. He has worked multiple Major Incident rooms for a variety of investigations including murders, child deaths and sex offences.

Involved in disaster response to cyclones Larry, Yasi, Steve, Monica and Abigail as well as the 2013 Bundaberg Floods, 2017 Rockhampton floods and the 2018 Baffle Creek fires. Mark is currently running a crime prevention/youth development program as a School Based Police Officer taking at risk youth on expeditions of up to 5 days, 100 kilometres. He is the Deputy chair of the Australian Association of Bush Adventure Therapy. Of indigenous, Scottish and German descent, Mark often uses his heritage and local Indigenous representatives to impart knowledge on his programs – Awarded Outdoors Qld 2019 Qld government award for Outstanding Individual Achievement.

Will Dobud MSW is the program director of True North Expeditions, Inc., an Australian adventure therapy program for adolescents. Will is also a casual academic in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Charles Sturt University and was awarded the Australian Postgraduate Award in 2015 for completing his PhD, a study of adventure therapy experiences. Will has been involved with adventure therapy programs in Australia, the United States, And Norway. Will’s research centres on people’s experiences in adventure therapy and steps practitioners can take to improve their effectiveness.

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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