Survivor Club

Rescue Map

Expecting the unexpected

Name Vernall
Product Name ResQLink™ PLB
Date of Rescue 04/28/2015
Saved By SAR Helicopter
Beacon Purchased From Rescue Beacon Hire Ltd
Lives Saved 1

I just want to take this opportunity to thank you for all your support for myself and my family during the recent events that unfolded when I was in South Westland 10 days ago. I've hired locater beacons from you in previous years. Always with the expectation that I'd never use it as I'm a rather conservative hunter never taking big risks. But given that I was travelling with others who didn't carry a PLB I thought that having one between us was a good policy.

I suppose for me this is a story of expecting the unexpected. We'd already spent 5 days in the Pyke region. The first 3 nights on the tops and then we set up a base camp in the Pyke Valley next to the old Pyke airstrip. We awoke early that Sunday morning to thunderous showers, lightening and wind. So the 4 of us were digging in for a long morning around the coffee pot. When at about 8:30am I had a rapid pain come through my chest. This caused shortness of breath and uncontrollable shaking and a feeling of coldness. It didn't take long for us to see I was in a bad way thinking that I was having some sort of heart event.

About 30 minutes into this event. We decided to set off the PLB. In saying this there was no reassurance that anyone could get to us because the storm was still very violent. I was still in a huge amount of pain and was quite literally saying my goodbyes to the boys with the little breath I had. A very scary situation for everyone.

So what a relief it was when 2&1/2 later we heard the helicopter coming in through the mist and rain. What a blessing that SARS team were. Immediately comforting me and reassuring me that I was going to get to a hospital. So very quickly we pulled out, flying into the storm towards Queenstown hospital.

Upon arrival at the hospital the staff were all very caring and efficient. They gave me morphine for the pain and quickly ran tests. What was revealed quite quickly and reassuringly was that it didn't appear to be my heart. But what the staff did come to realize was that my esophagus and upper stomach were cramping. This condition gave all the presenting symptoms similar to a heart attack. So over time they treated me to alleviate the symptoms. The disconcerting thing for me and at one level an embarrassing thing was that I had all the symptoms of a heart attack but it was something else. When I discussed this with the medical team. They said that I would have had little ability to discern the difference between a heart attack and the condition I suffered. So calling in the helicopter was a choice no one would have avoided in the circumstances. So I was held in the hospital overnight and discharged the following day. It took a couple of days to get word back to my hunting mates that I was OK.

All this to say, that the help I received was amazing. The beacon and the rescue team were amazing. We (my hunting) mates and I have since agreed that we all need to carry a PLB in the future. Always in the hope that we'll never use them. But as I proved. Even a conservative low risk taking hunter like myself can find an unexpected situation arise where help is needed urgently.