Benbro Electronics have donated 23 advanced rescue beacons to the NSW Police Rescue Service, in the Blue Mountains, for free loan to bushwalkers, to help locate them should they become lost or injured.
Benbro Electronics purchased the pocket-sized PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons, also known as EPIRBs, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) following two deaths last year, which might have been avoided if rescue beacons had been activated.
The Blue Mountains national park covers over a quarter of a million hectares of rugged terrain and, though there is a large network of walking tracks, inexperienced bushwalkers can easily become lost if they wander even a few metres off the track.
Every year, around 130 people require rescue and they are often found quite some distance from where they thought they were. In the case of the two deaths, last year, finding the bodies took up to eight days.
The Benbro rescue beacons, when activated, can pinpoint a person's location to within hailing distance. Broadcasting on the international rescue frequency of 406MHz, which is monitored 24 hours a day, each rescue beacon has an individual identification code, registered to the Springwood Police Rescue Service, so that the monitoring authority in Melbourne can alert them within minutes of a signal being received.
To borrow a rescue beacon, on free loan, bushwalkers simply need to fill in a "Trek Intentions" form, at either the National Parks or Wildlife (NPWS) office at Blackheath, during office hours or at the Springwood or Katoomba 24-hour police stations, after hours.
This Benbro Electronics’ initiative has received strong support from the NSW Government, the NSW Police Rescue Service, NPWS and Everest survivor, Lincoln Hall, who was close to death when he was accidentally found on the final slopes of Mount Everest. Lincoln Hall lives in the Blue Mountains and knows their walking trails intimately.