Seasoned Canyoneering Family Use ACR PLB in Emergency

Note To Reader: Veteran climber LeRoy Anderson of Salt Lake City and his canyoneering party rely on ACR's MicroFix™ Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) when his daughter-in-law suffers a broken leg. 

Here's LeRoy's story in his own words:

I, my son, Craig, daughter in law, Tanya, and two other friends decided to go down the Lower Jump (North Fork of King's Canyon near Fresno, CA) on the 31 of July 2010. This canyon has to be the one of the best (albeit long and tiring) canyoneering experiences in the U.S.

It is a fantastic adventure with rappelling, sliding, and jumping down multiple waterfalls, along with a lot of swimming in beautiful narrows. We were having the time of our lives, but just before the exit to the canyon after 11 hours (around 9 p.m.) of getting through all the technical parts of the canyon, my daughter in law slipped wrong while sliding down three feet along a simple and gently sloped four foot boulder in a boulder maze, struck her shin on a protruding tip of rock, and broke her lower leg. She hit it just exactly wrong. We could not move her among the boulders without causing severe pain, and she ended up requiring a helicopter rescue.

We splinted her leg, pressed the activation button at 10 p.m. on my ACR MicroFix™ 406 MHz emergency beacon, bivied overnight in our wetsuits while our two friends hiked out to try to find help. She was picked up in the early morning around 8 a.m. by helicopter. Initially the helicopter avoided looking in the bottom of the canyon where we were, but the ACR beacon we used provided exact coordinates for the searchers, which made localization much easier. She was lifted out of the canyon, taken to a rescue staging area near the power plant at the bottom of the canyon, and driven by ambulance to the hospital in Fresno. We discovered she had broken her left lower fibula, tibia, as well as her ankle. It shocked me that a mere two or three-foot fall could cause such an extreme amount of damage. She ended up having surgery, is involved in physical therapy, and hopefully will recover completely as time goes on.

Epilogue: An interesting anecdote was the fact that rescue personnel on the helicopter told us of a woman with a broken leg they had rescued earlier that same week who had no such beacon with her. She lay helpless near a trail for four days prior to being found by a fellow hiker. Thanks to our ACR PLB we were found much more easily and my daughter in law received prompt lifesaving rescue and treatment.

About Satellite Detectible Emergency Beacons

406 MHz EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) and PLBs transmit signals on internationally recognized distress frequencies.  NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) monitors the 406 MHz signal and the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System (COSPAS-SARSAT) detects and locates distress signals and forwards the information directly to the Coast Guard.  GPS coordinates greatly assist search and rescue crews, and in the event GPS isn't acquired, position can be calculated through Doppler Shift as a reliable backup.

NOAA has reported that in 2009, Cospas-Sarsat assisted in the rescue of 154 people in 63 incidents at sea.  Worldwide, the Cospas-Sarsat system is credited with rescuing more than 28,000 people since the program's inception in 1982.  Of that number, more than 6,000 persons were rescued in the U.S.

An EPIRB/PLB is a satellite-signalling device of last resort, for use when all other means of self-rescue have been exhausted and where the situation is deemed to be grave and imminent, and the loss of life, limb, eyesight or valuable property will occur without assistance. All beacons must be registered online at following purchase.

About Cobham Life Support

Cobham Life Support is a world leader in life support and personal survival equipment for use under extreme conditions including oxygen systems for aviators and astronauts, crew restraints, flotation gear, emergency beacons and crew and cargo release systems.

About Cobham

Cobham's products and services have been at the heart of sophisticated military and civil systems for more than 75 years, keeping people safe, improving communications, and enhancing the capability of land, sea, air and space platforms. The Company has four divisions employing some 12,000 people on five continents, with customers and partners in over 100 countries and annual revenue of some £1.9bn / $3 billion.


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