Importance of beacons stressed after rescues

The Southern Lakes Helicopters team has been busy over the holiday period, attending three callouts.

Two were via locator beacon and the other was a phone call made by a woman who was lost and later lost phone reception.

“We have probably seen a little bit more activity with more of the domestic parts of New Zealand, such as the North Island, travelling down into the South,” Southern Lakes Helicopters chief executive Michael Hayes said.

“It is quite a common occurrence for us to respond to these.”

Beacon Testers WST

One of the jobs involved an experienced back-country user who had intended to work his way up over a ridge line and come down into another valley, northwest of Makarora in Mount Aspiring National Park.

He had climbed a mountain face to a point where he could not go any higher and, unable to get down safely, activated his personal locator beacon.

Mr Hayes said crews which included Southern Lakes Helicopters, Heli Glenorchy and Queenstown Alpine Cliff Rescue had been able to locate him, and cliff rescue crewmen had got him to safety.

Another man had injured his leg on a coastal track at Jackson’s Bay south of Haast, and after he used his beacon, crews found him in “dense West Coast forest”.

In light of the recent incidents, Southern Lakes Helicopters safety manager and winch operator Richie Hunter wanted to highlight safety messages and reinforce how important beacons were.

“[Beacons are] really critical these days, because if someone’s in trouble … then a rescue can be could be within one hour.

“Whereas if you don’t take a beacon … the search can go on for hours, if not days, if not weeks.”

Mr Hunter said it was great to see people getting outdoors, but he wanted to encourage safety.

His advice included knowing the area they were going to, including weather and terrain, and having the right equipment, including clothes, footwear and food — and of course a locator beacon.

It was also helpful for rescue crews if people had bright colours and a light source.

AIS Testing BT200
AIS Testing BT200
AIS Testing BT200
AIS Testing BT200
AIS Testing BT200
WST Antenna 420-100
WST Antenna MGAA SMA
WST Antenna 100-GAA-SMA-M
WST Cable 130-029
WST Cable 130-002
WST BT200 screen
WST BT200 screen