70-year-old Terry Mulhern from Opotiki was winched to safety by Trust Tairawhiti rescue helicopter after rupturing an Achilles tendon in Urewera.

Terry Mulhern with PLB1

Terry Mulhern with his Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1

The importance of carrying a life-saving Personal Locator Beacon in remote regions was brought home to experienced hunter and tramper Terry Mulhern when he was rescued in the Urewera bush this November.The 70-year-old was hunting in the Tawa Hut area on the Moanui Track, about six hours from the road end, when he ruptured his left Achilles tendon while exiting a side creek with his pack on.

Terry, who has been hunting and tramping for over 50 years, deployed his Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1 and, in less than an hour, the region’s new twin-engined Trust Tairawhiti rescue helicopter arrived overhead. Intensive care paramedic Richard Curtis was winched down to check Terry over before they were both lifted out. Once Terry was treated, he chose to be flown back to his vehicle to make his own way back home and to go to hospital.

Terry said: “I have carried a beacon for the past 5 years and chose the Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1 because of its compact size. I recommend that anyone venturing out, particularly in this area, should carry a PLB because of the rugged nature of the terrain, vagaries of local weather and absence of cell phone cover. I do intend to continue hunting in a few months when my Achilles tendon has repaired.”

The BK 117 chopper used in the rescue has replaced the single-engined machine used since the changeover last year to the new nationwide rescue helicopter network. It is the new machine operated by Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust

Charlie Beetham told the Gisborne Herald: “He set off his emergency locator beacon and the signal was picked up by the Rescue Coordination Centre, who called us in. We found him quite easily and winched one of our onboard paramedics down to assess him. Once that was done, we winched both of them back up into the helicopter. It was very fortunate for him, and us, that he was carrying a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).”

It is the second time an Ocean Signal PLB owned by Terry has been used in an emergency. The first time, when he lent his beacon to a friend who was back county running on the Motu trail, it was used to help an injured cyclist.

Suitable for use on land or at sea, Ocean Signal’s rescueME PLB1 is the world’s smallest personal locator beacon and is specifically designed to be small and light enough to carry or attach to clothing for instant access to emergency services at the press of a button. Once activated, the PLB1 communicates the location of a survivor to search and rescue services via the designated 406MHz Cospas-Sarsat satellite system with position provided by a 66 channel GPS. The device also incorporates a 121.5MHz homing beacon, plus high intensity (1 candela) strobe light. It is waterproof up to 15m and has a seven-year battery life.

Ocean Signal provides a free replacement beacon for all owners of its rescueME and SafeSea devices who activate their PLB or EPIRB in an emergency.
For more information about the rescueME PLB1 and other Ocean Signal products, go to