SEARCH AND RESCUE

Rescues highlight value of personal locator beacons

Wednesday 14 November 2012, 2:00PM
By Maritime New Zealand
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The rescue of two trampers with broken ankles within two days highlights the value of carrying personal locator beacons when tramping in remote locations.

A 67-year-old Dunedin woman was picked up from the Siberia Valley near Wanaka by the Southern Lakes rescue helicopter at around 7pm last night after breaking her ankle while on an over-60s tramping trip.

Because the group was able to activate a personal locator beacon, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) was able to arrange the rescue quickly and without difficulty.

The woman was flown to Wanaka for medical treatment.

On Monday night, a 24-year-old woman from a party of three was winched from Stewart Island, also with a broken ankle, after activating a personal locator beacon. She was flown by the Southern Lakes rescue helicopter to Kew Hospital in Invercargill for treatment.

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Geoff Lunt said personal locator beacons could substantially reduce rescue times.

“Personal locator beacons with GPS capability should be part of any trampers’ equipment if they are heading somewhere remote,” Mr Lunt said.

“They can be purchased or hired and can mean the difference between a long, uncomfortable wait and a quick rescue - they can save lives.

“They should also be registered, so that RCCNZ can quickly reach emergency contacts, if required.”

Information on beacons is available at: www.beacons.org.nz