Personal Locator Beacon saves man's life

Saturday 13 October 2012, 3:14PM
By Maritime New Zealand

A late decision to take a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) likely saved a man’s life, after he was rescued from a remote area of bush in Fiordland after activating it yesterday afternoon (11 October).

The man and his companion had been on a three-week hunting trip, but 30 hours of constant rain left him hypothermic and with chest pains.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) search controller Conrad Reynecke said the pair had got into difficulty and activated their beacon near Dusky Track around 4pm.

“The GPS location information from their PLB meant we were able to dispatch the Southern Lakes Helicopter to the scene quickly. He was hypothermic, and suffering from chest pains, so it was important to get him to a place of safety.”

Southern Lakes Helicopters spokesperson Erin Robertson said the pair hadn’t intended on taking a PLB, but were talked into it by a combination of the wife of one of the men, and SLH staff.

“They had just been planning to take a radio, but there’s no guarantee there will be reception, and given they were going to be away for a considerable period, if something went wrong it would be some time before anyone would be able to assist. Once they realised this, they were keen to take a beacon with them.”

The man was transferred to Invercargill by the rescue helicopter, and he is now recovering at home.

“This incident really shows the importance of carrying a registered PLB with GPS capability.  RCCNZ was able to respond immediately and along with SLH, avert a potentially very serious situation.  Carrying a registered PLB essentially removes “search” from “search and rescue”, drastically increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome,” said Conrad Reynecke.

More information about PLBs is available at