Locator beacons proving their worth

Locator beacons save time and save lives, rescue crew members say.

THOUGH they have proved their worth over time, the value of Personal Locator Beacons is heightened during events like Cyclone Gabrielle when communications are challenged, says the Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust.

From the start of February alone, the Trust Tairawhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter responded to a number of calls triggered by the activation of PLBs.

The activations light up at Rescue Co-Ordination Centre New Zealand which, from its base in Lower Hutt, deploys the appropriate search and/or rescue response.

And it was those deployments that sent the Tairawhiti crew to locations as far flung as Tahunga (inland from Hangaroa) to Matawai, Te Urewera National Park, and Tiniroto, where a patient had suffered traumatic injuries falling from a horse.

“Those missions where PLBs were used are perfect examples of just how valuable they are,” a Trust Tairawhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter spokesman said.

“The Rescue Co-Ordination Centre is able to pinpoint the exact location so our crew can fly direct to those co-ordinates and provide assistance.”

That value became even more important in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle, they said.

“It all highlighted the importance of PLBs, especially in times of no or limited communications.

“So if you need help because you are cut off and require urgent medical assistance, please use your PLB and the Rescue Co-Ordination Centre will deploy a helicopter to assist.”

Photo credit: File photo