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An Orolia Group Business
An injured climber has been rescued thanks to a Fast Find 211 Personal Location Beacon (PLB), the activation of the PLB resulted in a rescue helicopter flying directly to his position and airlifting him to safety in the remote Nelson Lakes National Parks area, New Zealand last month.
An experienced climber/tramper, Graeme Brown had received the Fast Find 211 PLB as a Christmas gift from his wife two years earlier, but had never thought he would have to use it. However, when he suffered a serious fall on the steep unstable scree slopes around Thompson Pass, he had little hesitation in activating it. Thanks to the distress signal sent by the pocket-sized, rugged device, the search and rescue services were alerted of his plight via the subscription-free, global 406 MHz satellite system operated by COSPAS-SARSAT. The Fast Find 211 PLB’s transmission included highly accurate position information due to its integrated GPS, allowing the rescue team to pinpoint his location. Just over one hour after setting off the beacon, Graeme and his three companions were located by the helicopter.
Severe lacerations, swelling to his legs, a head injury and sustained shock meant that Graeme was unable to walk and, had the helicopter not arrived, he would have been forced to spend the night out in the open on the hazardous mountainside. Without the PLB, the group’s only chance of getting help would have been to make the two day walk to the nearest road, an impossible task given Graeme’s condition, their exposed location, and the worsening weather.
Graeme says; “We hadn’t been involved in anything dangerous and had no concerns about our safety at the time; all four of us were experienced climbers/trampers on day four of an eight day trip. Everything was going well until I inadvertently stepped on a loose stone which pivoted me downhill, falling heavily onto the sharp rocks, but this experience proves that accidents can happen at any time. The PLB was potentially a lifesaver; just an hour and a half after setting it off we saw the helicopter approaching through the low cloud and rain which was moving in; a paramedic was dropped and I was winched out. We were all extremely grateful that we had the PLB with us so that we were rescued quickly and without any further incident; that would not have been possible otherwise.”
The Fast Find 211 PLB is a version of McMurdo’s Fast Find 210 PLB that has been specially adapted to meet New Zealand and Australian requirements, supplied with lanyard and floatation pouch as standard.