Swathed in a sleeping bag and a purple jacket, a hiker sits smiling at the camera. Next to her, a small yellow device sits on a rock, antenna extended, flashing a reassuring strobe light at two-second intervals.
The hiker is Karma Forester, and she’s in the Dividalen National Park in northern Norway, 33km from habitation and 80km from medical assistance. She has tripped, falling on a sharp rock and cutting her knee to the bone.
The device is an Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon. This far from civilisation and miles from the nearest mobile phone mast, it’s the only reason that Karma can rest easy. Within two hours, a helicopter will land next to her and take her to hospital.
Karma comes from Sweden and her partner Scott Taylor from New Zealand. They describe themselves as ‘nomadic’, and after finding that it would take the Swedish authorities two years to decide whether Scott could settle in the country, making it impossible for them to live together in one place, they opted to hike between their two countries.
Walking the world might sound ambitious, and it is, but the couple are well prepared. They both have significant long-distance hiking experience, including completing the 4,265km Pacific Crest Trail in 2018. At the time of the accident, they had been on the trail for 28 days and completed 643km. Karma described the incident: “It was a very undramatic stumble on a non-technical section of the trail. We had already hiked 29km that day, so I was probably getting a little tired. I landed knee-first on a very sharp rock, splitting open my whole knee.”
“As soon as we realised the severity, we activated the Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). Then we wrapped the wound in sterile bandages. We always carry a compact first-aid kit and we were complimented by the doctors on how we took care of the injury in the field.”
Karma chose the Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1 because of its light weight, small size and global, subscription-free coverage. “I often hike in remote areas where I cannot rely on having cell phone reception,” she said. “I always carry a Personal Locator Beacon for personal safety and peace of mind for my family, but also out of respect for Search and Rescue teams who don’t have to waste time searching for me if I should go missing.”
A Norwegian Army helicopter arrived within two hours and airlifted Karma to a hospital, where the wound was investigated and closed with nine stitches. Karma and Scott hope to resume their journey in as little as four weeks. “Due to the fast response and rescue thanks to the PLB and Norwegian authorities, my recovery time will be shorter, the result more likely to be good, and I will be able to return to the trail sooner,” she said. “It was a very unlucky fall, but a lucky wound in the sense that it could have turned out so much worse.”
To view a video of the helicopter rescue, visit Reboot Life on YouTube. To find out more about Karma and Scott’s adventure, visit rebootlife.me, or find them on Facebook @reboot.life.me.
For more information about Ocean Signal’s products, visit www.oceansignal.com.