Hiker Activates PLB to Evade Pneumonia
41.4500° S°N, 173.5000° E°E
Posted on April 24, 2023 by Glen
Start of the Trip
My friend, Peter, and I set out to walk a 140 km hike through the Richmond Ranges at the top of the South Island in New Zealand. The Richmond Ranges is an Alpine Route that is known to be challenging. Both Peter and I are in our early 70’s with many years of hiking experience under our belts.
We had completed about 90 km of the hike when I lost my balance crossing a loose boulder field and landed heavily on my chest on top of the handle of one my hiking poles. My chest was very sore and I had trouble breathing and using my walking poles. We carried on hiking for another three days. This included some very steep climbs, descents, and traverses over mountainous terrain.
It Goes from Bad to Worse
On the third day the weather turned nasty (heavy rain, strong winds) and was expected to be worse the next day, so we decided to drop off the main ridge to Old Man Hut at a lower elevation to wait out the storm.
That night, and particularly the following night, Peter and Scott (another hiker who had also descended to the hut to wait out the storm) became very concerned about my breathing. Fluid was building up in my lungs and I was disorientated when they woke me. When I tried standing, I had trouble maintaining my balance.
Hiker’s Rescue Ahead
Two more days of hiking through challenging terrain was required to reach our planned exit point from the trail. Peter did not think I could safely make it, given my balance problems and breathing difficulties, and was concerned that I might end up with pneumonia if we stayed longer in the hut.
We decided to press the button on my ACR ResQLink 400 personal locator beacon at about 630 am. The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter arrived about 45 minutes later. I was assessed by the helicopter medics. Peter and I were then flown direct to Nelson hospital.
Words of wisdom
Be prepared for the worst – carry a personal locator beacon. Sometimes warm clothing, extra food, and the shelter of a good hut are not enough.
Thank you note
Thanks go, first of all, to my wife who bought me a PLB for Christmas and insisted that I carry it with me. Thanks go to my friend, Peter, who strongly suggested that we use the PLB when I got into difficulties. Thanks also go to the Rescue Helicopter team who responded so quickly and efficiently to my emergency.
Richmond Ranges, Nelson-Marlborough Region, New Zealand
Local Search and Rescue
ResQLink™ 400Go to product details
Small but resilient, the ResQLink 400 has been professionally engineered and tested to ensure it can withstand even the harshest elements. This buoyant Personal Locator Beacon requires no subscription for use and can be utilized to enhance your safety in a wide variety of environments. Whether on land, at sea, or in the air, trust that the ResQLink’s satellite precision and military durability, put rescue in the palm of your hands.
Features and Benefits:
- No Subscription Required
- GPS and Galileo GNSS
- Built-In Buoyancy
- Strobe and Infrared Strobe
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- MEOSAR Compatible
- Small and lightweight
- 5-year battery life
- 24+ hours Operational Life**
- Multi-function Clip System Included