Beacon leads team to injured doctor

A HASTINGS doctor who broke his leg near Waimarama beach activated his Christmas present, a personal locator beacon, bringing rescuers directly to help him.
Colin Jones was walking his dogs at about 3.15pm when a rock he was holding on to broke away and he fell, breaking his leg.
Dr Jones called 111 from his cellphone and activated the personal locator beacon (PLB).
The Rescue Co-ordination Centre picked up the signal and within minutes and identified him as the registered owner. The Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter tracking device also homed in on the injured walker.
Meanwhile his dogs, Lily and Mini, attracted the attention of people on the beach and walked them back to Dr Jones.
He was flown to Hawke's Bay Hospital and is waiting for surgery on broken bones in his knee.
Dr Jones asked for the 406 MHz emergency beacon as a Christmas present.
``I think if you're going walking by yourself you need to be responsible and that's why I got it - I don't want to waste anyone's time looking for me.'
He had worked with the rescue helicopter in the past and realised the importance of the PLB, especially one with GPS.
Helicopter pilot Dean Herrick said although Dr Jones was found by beachgoers the beacon was still a good idea -especially for people hunting or tramping in remote areas as they could be hard to locate if injured.
``The principle is the same - if you get into trouble switch it on to get assistance.'
Search and rescue officer Dave Wilson said PLBs were a ``pretty cheap form of life insurance'.
``This is a classic case of the injured tramper doing everything right - not only by carrying a 406MHz beacon in the first place, but also ensuring his ownership details were up to date and registered with RCCNZ, which allowed us to respond very quickly to his situation.'
When activated, the 406 MHz PLB identifies the owner and pinpoints where they are.
They beacons cost $600 to $1100.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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