Posts Tagged ‘accident procedure’

Crag accidents: Personal Locator Beacons

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

There’s been quite a lot of discussion about procedure after accidents in the last few months, especially how to get help in a situation where self-rescue is impossible and help needed. A costly but thorough solution might be to carry Personal Locator Beacons when venturing into areas where it is known that getting help and being located could be difficult. Mike Nott has been researching this topic. These are his notes which he has kindly sent me:

Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). PLBs are more usually found amongstthe personal survival equipment of pilots and mariners. However they are more frequently being used by people on land. If you chose to obtain a PLB you should ensure that it is a 406MHz transmitter and that it has an inbuilt GPS. Each PLB has a unique identifier code which can be registered with an official government rescue agency and allows them to identify the holder/user. To register your PLB you will need to call the UAE SAR organisation (800 UAESAR) and they will log you and your PLB’s details. The UAE has a receiving station for PLB transmissions and an established search and rescue service.

When activated by the user the PLB will transmit a distress signal with the personal identifier code and the GPS location, which will be picked up by the local user terminal. In effect they will alert the search and rescue services and be able to tell them exactly where you are located and who you are (if registered). If you do have one you should know that they are not to be used lightly. They should only be used in life threatening situations where your only possible means of survival is to be rescued by government funded rescue agencies. If you can dial 999, do not use your PLB.

My impression is that climbers would want to register a PLB with Oman as well as with UAESAR.

I had never heard of these gadgets before Mike mentioned them. It seems the technology can be made quite small and light. For example this 150g device is retailed by REI in the USA. That’s only about 50% heavier than a Blackberry.