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The first time was in January when a club member used one of our beacons to save a stranger in Whirinaki Forest Park. They came upon a man with a broken leg and helped him. This time our personal locator beacon (PLB) has helped an actual club member when Tracey broke her ankle in the Ruahine Range. It could have been a tragedy but club systems kicked in ... and in the end it was only a nuisance.
Tracey was the leader of a group of eight on a day trip to experience the Ruahines on the 3rd of August 2014. The group included a 10 - year- old and Whanganui Police Senior Sergeant Shayne out on his first tramping trip. They set off up a marked track from Mania Rd, intending to walk up a ridge to Rangiwahia Hut and descend from there on another track. Two club members would be waiting to meet them, either there or back at Mania Rd, depending on how the trip went. It was a beautiful day and the eight made slow progress to 1450 meters where they were in low cloud and knee-deep snow.
At midday Tracey decided progress was too slow to make the full distance, and they started back down the way they had come. It was very steep and the snow had been cut up and was slushy. About an hour into the three-hour descent, Tracey stood on a hidden tree root and her ankle went over. When she tried to take a step on it, she fell over immediately, so Mr W. told her not to try walking out and rang Search and Rescue. The line wasn't good and they were advised to set off their beacon, which they did at 2:30 pm.
Mr W. stayed with Tracey while the other six in the party descended to meet their drivers. She took an anti-inflammatory and he searched for a place where a helicopter could get access between the beech trees. He found a clearing and moved a windfall out of the way. Tracey crawled to it, and they waited there for two hours with a yellow pack-liner spread out as a beacon. It was cold, and Tracey was a bit shaky but she said the pain was minimal as long as she didn't move. It took a while for the Palmerston North rescue helicopter to find them. Then it scouted around for an escape route in case there was a problem during the rescue - it was a risky place for winching up and down because there were so many trees. The first to be winched down into the clearing was a paramedic, who assessed Tracey. Then the chopper took both the packs to a nearby paddock. Mr W., who was experienced with helicopters, was then winched into it alone, and taken to the paddock.
Finally Tracey and the paramedic were winched aboard together and taken there. The helicopter was arranged so that everyone and the packs could be carried at once. It was a tight fit. At 5.30 pm Tracey was finally on the ground at Palmerston North airport where she was loaded into an ambulance and taken to Palmerston North Hospital. Another Survivor story from the Wanganui Tramping Club.
This time our personal locator beacon (PLB) has helped an actual club member when she broke her ankle in the Ruahine Range.
Thank you ACR.
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