Smoke signal and beacon save trampers bacon

January 31, 2024

emergency beacon
Life Flight rescued a man and his grandson lost in the Tararua Ranges this week. PHOTO/FILE

A personal locator beacon [PLB] and smoke signal saved the day earlier this week after a man and his grandson became lost in dense bush in Tararua Forest Park.

A spokesperson for Life Flight said that its Westpac rescue chopper was called out on a mission on Monday.

The call for help came from a man and his grandson on the second day of a tramp in the forest park when they became lost in a dense patch of bush.

“As the Westpac chopper approached the approximate GPS coordinate from the PLB, it would have been very difficult to see them through the canopy,” the spokesperson said.

“But they had made a small [safely contained] smoky fire to signal the Life Flight team, which was extremely helpful.”

Life Flight’s Westpac rescue helicopter was tasked by the Rescue Coordination Centre.

The spokesperson said that once the helicopter crew had caught sight of the smoke signal, they unloaded paramedic Serah [last name was not provided] to find the pair.

The crew managed to land the helicopter on the rocky bank of the Waiohine River as it was reasonably flat.

“There were also no branches or foliage overhanging, which could pose a threat,” the spokesperson said.

“From there, Serah walked into the bush to retrieve the pair.”

Serah said that once she found them, she guided them back to the helicopter and they all flew back to the road and landed by the trampers’ car.

“Fortunately, there were no injuries, so they could take themselves home.”

The rescued duo did not respond to requests for comment.

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