Locator Beacon Used for Hiker Injury
Posted on February 27, 2023 by Graham
Days Leading Up to Rescue
On 26 March 2022, I, along with two others, were flown by helicopter into the Waitotara Forest in the Matemateaonga Ranges; which are situated in Whanganui region in the North Island of New Zealand. The area is very remote and very rugged. We had planned to do five days of track maintenance work for the Department of Conservation. I made sure to carry safety equipment, like my satellite phone and personal locator beacon.
Furthermore, Saturday, 28 March, at 8.20am, we were traveling along the track down a steep slippery section when my feet went from under me, sending me sliding down and my foot impacted with a tree trunk causing a significant injury to my ankle. My ankle was completely broken, and my foot attached to my leg only by tissue.
My first thought was that it was only a broken ankle, not a broken back or neck. I was thankful for that.
Using the Personal Locator Beacon
We had a satellite communication device and an ACR personal locator beacon, plus miscellaneous first-aid gear. The area had no mobile phone or internet reception. We were able to notify key personnel of what had happened and alert emergency services.
The Taranaki Rescue helicopter arrived at 9.30am. We were in dense forest in very steep country, nowhere for a helicopter to land.
They managed to find a gap in the forest canopy where they could lower a paramedic down to attend to me. Next, my foot was strapped up somewhat and my backpack had been winched up, I was also winched up into the helicopter, and flown to the Taranaki Base Hospital, arriving at 10.15am.
I consider that this was a textbook rescue. All emergency devices worked perfectly; rescue procedures were completed without a hitch. I am thankful to the rescue personnel, and the weather also cooperated.
Words of wisdom
Always, always carry a Personal Locator Beacon in case you or others meet with a accident or medical emergency. They save lives.
Thank you note
Had we not been able to call emergency rescue services, my situation would have been dire. I have been on two other trips where a member has been injured. The most valuable piece of equipment we carry is our PLB. We are always thankful for that.
7QPJ+2H Waitōtara, New Zealand
Local Search and Rescue
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