In the space of just five weeks, the New Zealand media ran a series of stories about Kiwis finding themselves in spots of bother all over the country. The common link between all of the stories was the use of a personal locator beacon (PLB) that helped them be found before things became much worse.
In one story, a farmworker fell down a seven-metre hill after being kicked by a bull in rural Hawke’s Bay. Fortunately, she carried a personal locator beacon with her and activated the device, allowing a rescue helicopter to reach her before nightfall. This story highlighted the importance of PLBs on rural sites where cellphone reception is limited. In fact, cell phone black spots are common on New Zealand farms and an emergency locator beacon can be the only effective form of communication when mishaps happen.
In another story, a tramper fell and injured in a rough country on the Douglas Range, in the Kahurangi National Park in the Nelson/Tasman region. He actually had to spend a night on steep terrain but he had the good fortune that a rescue helicopter was able to drop a paramedic to him before it became too dark. Yet again, he was found in good time because he activated his locator beacon.
In this next story, we go back to Hawkes Bay. A pair were enjoying a spot of trout fishing on the Ngaruroro River in the Kaweka Ranges when one of them fell and hurt her leg. Yes, you guessed it, the 60-year-old woman and her partner activated a personal locator beacon and the Hawke’s Bay rescue helicopter was able to locate them quickly.
The fourth story in four weeks takes place well off-shore. A jet ski rider encountered blustery conditions and fell off his machine in Bream Bay near Whangārei. Yet again, he was carrying a PLB which he activated, sparking a mayday call from the coastguard. The call was answered by a couple sailing their yacht a few kilometres away. When they reached the man, he was clinging to his jetski and suffering from hypothermia. But if it wasn’t for his PLB and a swift response from his rescuers, things could have been so much worse.
Four stories, four happy endings. There are dozens of other stories we could tell you about people surviving potentially life-threatening situations simply because they had the good sense to invest in a Personal Locator Beacon.