A keen hiker has vowed to never venture out tramping in the New Zealand bush again without the security of his Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1 after he activated the device to help save an injured woman.
Stranded in a back country hut with a broken leg, the patient and her fellow party members had no means of alerting the rescue services until the fortunate arrival of Wayne Osmond, equipped with his compact Ocean Signal personal locator beacon.
He activated the rescueME PLB1 and, despite deteriorating weather conditions, a helicopter was able to land and successfully transport the woman to Masterton hospital for treatment.
“I was talked into getting the PLB1 by my long suffering wife who was concerned that my solo tramps into the bush at my age could leave me injured with no one in the know or assistance if needed,” said Wayne.“Hopefully I will never need to use it for myself but in this instance it resulted in a timely rescue and evacuation for the injured lady. I was impressed with the rapid response that it elicited from the NZ RCC. As a result, I will now never venture into the bush hunting or tramping without it.”
Osmond, 51, and his son’s 16-year-old brother-in-law had set out on a medium level tramp with a dog in tow on a fine, sunny day in the Tararua Ranges to the west of Masterton.
Starting from the road end on the 4.5-hour hike to Mitre Hut, the pair began walking on a track crossing farm land for the first 30 minutes before following the river while heading deeper into the native bush.The weather started to close in with rain and low cloud skimming the tops of the hills as Osmond and his fellow hiker approached the hut and they climbed down a steep drop to the river and crossed a swing bridge to reach shelter.
Upon arrival at the hut, a group of three concerned people asked Wayne if he had a bush radio or a PLB as one of their party had tripped over a tree root while clambering down the last drop to the river and had a suspected broken ankle. They were all medical staff based at Masterton hospital and they had already splinted her leg before transporting her to the building.
Wayne said: “After taking in the situation and divesting ourselves of our wet clothes, I activated my rescueME PLB1. I had to place it out in the open in the rain. Watching the sky and the low cloud base, it was apparent that any response would probably be on foot. “As we were at the Mitre Flats I was concerned that the Rescue Co-ordination Centre might think it was an accidental activation. To remove doubt I switched the PLB1 off after an hour for two minutes before reactivating it. I thought this would remove any doubt about an accidental activation.”As the cloud base slowly rose during the next hour and a half, a helicopter was able to land with a two-man crew who assessed the patient and decided not to wait for the main rescue helicopter due to the threatening clouds and winds. The rear seats were removed and the patient made as comfortable as possible before delivering her to her place of work for appropriate care.
Wayne and the patient’s party remained at the location over night before making the return trip in calmer weather conditions.
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