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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Old distress beacons a danger

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It took the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter two flights on consecutive days last week to finally locate a couple and their dog stranded on the Nymboida River.

The distress beacon the couple were using was an old analog 121.5MHz model, which satellites no longer track.

Crew Chief Roger Fry has implored people contemplating going into the bush or on offshore boating trips to equip themselves with the latest distress beacons.

He said the new 406MHz models aren’t a cheap item and perhaps there wasn’t enough publicity at the time about the phase-out of the old ones.

‘It was fortunate that Lifesaver 4 had equipment that could detect the signal, though it still made the search very difficult,’ Mr Fry said.

‘The old beacon signal emits low-frequency radio signals making it very difficult to pinpoint exactly where the signal is coming from.

’In the interests of your personal safety, and to make it quicker for search and rescue services to locate you in an emergency, we urge people to purchase and register a 406MHz distress beacon with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSAR).’

Mr Fry said the couple, located near the Nymboida River, were fortunate to be found in their remote location after spending three days without food.

‘They could have been found earlier if they had the new-style 406MHz distress beacon.’

For information on emergency beacons contact AUSSAR http://beacons.amsa.gov.au.

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