First Rented Personal Locator Beacon activation helps 4 Teen Hikers in Olympic National Park.
Hand held Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) use satellite technology to locate individuals lost, injured, or stranded in the wilderness.
MUKILTEO, WA. May 5, 2006 – PLB Rentals, LLC has announced the first activation of a rented Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) by a hiking party on Washington’s coast in the Olympic National Park. While crossing a fast moving creek, two of the four member hiking party fell in. After helping their friends out, all four 19-year olds were wet, cold, and without dry clothing. With steady rain and weather conditions deteriorating, some members were showing signs of hypothermia and so the group decided to activate the PLB one of the teens father had rented for them just days earlier.
Immediately Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) satellites operated by NOAA detected the distress signal and within minutes the ACR Terrafix PLB had transmitted the GPS coordinates of the teens. The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) in Langley, Virginia contacted Rangers at the Olympic National Park, and began the process of contacting the emergency contacts provided by PLB Rentals, LLC as part of the rental process. A US Coast Guard HH-65 Helicopter was dispatched from Port Angeles, Washington and with the exact coordinates provided by the PLB, quickly identified the distressed hikers. After locating and identifying the hikers, the Coast Guard helicopter was unable to land due to high gusts. Eventually Rangers caught up with the hikers who were treated for mild hypothermia.
Wayne Walcott, Vice President and co-founder of PLB Rentals, LLC recalls the initial contact with the father of one of the hikers, “After learning about our rental program from the informational rack cards we have at REI and G.I. Joe’s, Steve (one of the hiker’s father) called on Friday to arrange for a rental. We had a slight problem though because our shipping operations occur from Nevada and even with overnight shipping we couldn’t get a PLB to them in Washington State by their Monday departure date. Fortunately, we keep a few rental PLBs at our office in Washington State so were able to hand deliver the PLB to Steve.”
Kevin Stoltz, President of PLB Rentals, LLC credits a cautious father, a great working relationship with REI and G.I. Joe's, and a series of fortunate events with getting a PLB in the hands of the teenagers to begin with. "As it turns out, I was able to meet Steve at a local high school and drop off the PLB on Sunday, just in time for his son’s departure on Monday. Little did I know at the time this would be the first activation of one of our PLBs”. “Obviously we were extremely concerned with the well being of the teens after receiving notification of the activation from the AFRCC. It was a pretty scary time for everyone and I hate to think what could have happened if the hikers didn’t have a PLB.”
Kevin Stoltz also recalls how well the process worked, “It took many years and a lot of work by many people to get PLBs approved in the U.S. for use by individuals in July of 2003. Having been involved in and thoroughly impressed with the process of an actual activation, I can say we all really need to do everything possible to ensure the public knows about PLBs and we get them in the hands of anybody who could find themselves in a situation where they could be stranded, injured or lost in the wilderness. PLBs truly can make the difference between life and death”
PLB Rentals, LLC provides nationwide PLB rentals through their website at www.PLBRentals.com.
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