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I was given a ResQLink + Personal Locator Beacon for Christmas. It’s the sort of gift that, while being useful, is something you don’t really expect you’ll ever have to use. At least, that’s what you hope. I was given mine by my husband, partly because we were heading off to walk the Overland Track in Tasmania on Boxing Day, and partly because I spend my mornings and weekends playing about in the hills around my home. Hills that contain a lot of interesting rocky outcrops, snakes, big lizards, wild pigs, cassowaries, and a whole range of other fascinating critters. Whilst it’s summer, and we did get a couple of days of warm sunshine on the Overland Track, on 31 December the weather had closed in. It was grey, raining and very cold. In many parts, the track was ankle deep with freezing water. Even with gloves, my fingers were so cold they refused to grip anything. My jacket zipper was hard to adjust, and as for buttons, fastenings, clips…well, forget it.
A small group of us had made it to the hut and were crowded around the stove, jackets and leggings steaming on the washing-lines above our heads, when one of the hikers (who had only gone back because he’d left his camera in the last hut) rushed through the door with the news that a gentleman who was in his 60s, Lance, was injured and in trouble. Fortunately, two orthopedic nurses were in the hut, and they took my Beacon and a medical kit and set out into the weather. When they found him, about an hour back along the track, Lance had a dislocated shoulder; he was in a lot of pain, freezing cold, disoriented, and had a cut on his scalp from where he had walked into a tree.
Needless to say, they made the call to activate the Beacon. Search and Rescue and a local ranger at Lake St Clair, Bernie, liaised to get Lance out of the national park and on his way to the hospital in Hobart. Lance was exceptionally lucky. We later learned that the rangers had evacuated another person from the track that day; they were suffering from hypothermia.
Thanks to a wayward camera, Lance was found quickly. He was lucky there happened to be two orthopedic nurses walking the track. And he was lucky that I was given a ResQLink+ Beacon for Christmas. I might have been given a bottle of perfume and some socks. I had my Beacon for less than a week and it helped to save a life.
Thank you ACR.
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