Rescue Beacon Not Registered

Author: Peter Hackett   Date Posted:4 March 2017 

Beacon Registration Is Free. A recent ABC Australia news story from journalist Richard Baines highlighted the importance of not only registering your PLB/EPIRB beacons but in taking great care of them. Your Personal Locator Beacon is not a toy, it's a highly sophisticated and sensitive device and needs to be treated with respect.

"More than 80 per cent of emergency beacon activations last year were unwarranted, data obtained by the ABC shows."

Emergency Rescue Teams responding to the activation of a PLB or EPIRB is a costly and often dangerous exercise and when that event turns out to be the result of a hoax or carelessness, then time and resources are frustratingly wasted and lives unnecessarily put at risk.

So firstly, register your beacon. If it's Australian coded then you register it with AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) in Canberra and if it's New Zealand coded then with the RCC (Rescue Coordination Centre) in Wellington. Registration of your beacon is mandatory for a NZ resident owning a NZ-coded beacon. This is a FREE service for both AMSA & RCC and will give you the opportunity to list up to three Emergency Contacts and detailed trip plans on their respective websites. This is not spyware or a case of Big Brother watching you and the departments concerned only use this information in a search and rescue situation making your rescue a lot more efficient.

Imagine you are off with your mates on a remote hunting trip out of Te Anau. Someone breaks their leg (and spoils the expedition!) and you set off your beacon to initiate rescue. RCC Wellington and AMSA Canberra both pick up that signal and will then firstly determine the country of registration via its Hex ID (country of registration code). The country you are currently in will co-ordinate the rescue operation. If you have both registered your beacon and lodged a trip plan, this will confirm that you expected to be in the area from which the signal emanates.

They will then call your emergency contacts to confirm that it is indeed you out there in the bush and that you aren't at home watching TV. Your contact may also be able to supply further important information about the size of the party you are travelling with, what you are wearing and the sort of safety equipment being carried etc.

Registering your beacon gives emergency services confirmation that this is not a hoax when your beacon is activated.

Always carry your beacon on your person, not in your pack, in case you become separated from it. Keep it in its case and in a place where you are unlikely to accidentally set it off. Store it in a safe place when not in use.

On your boat, make sure that your EPIRB is kept in its mounting bracket and out of the reach of curious kids and let everyone on board know what it is, where it is and how to operate it in an emergency.

Beacons are wonderful devices carried to help keep us safe in remote locations where mobile phone coverage may be patchy or non-existent.

But, they need to be used carefully and PLEASE, register your beacon and help those who could one day be helping you. And when your beacon reaches its use-by date, dispose of it carefully........ as you would any other battery. Do not dump it in your bin.


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