Motorbike riders rescued from Australian desert

Three motorbike riders were rescued from a remote area of Australia’s Simpson Desert after alerting rescue services using their Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1.

Kevin Chapman, along with two friends, was at the end of the first day of a long-planned crossing of the Simpson Desert, riding through great scenery and terrain, when disaster struck after he went over the bars and hurt his back. After attempting to continue, he eventually found it impossible to carry on due to the pain, which left the three motor cyclists stranded in the middle of the desert in temperatures of about 40 degrees.

After activating their rescueME PLB1 in the afternoon, it was a great relief to see a plane circling overhead at about midnight. As they later discovered, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority had deployed a Dornier search and rescue aircraft to the location of the distress beacon, 214km west of Birdsville. Rescue crews then located the three men at first light the following day and Kevin was airlifted to the Birdsville clinic for treatment.

“Thank goodness we had the rescueME PLB1,” said Kevin Chapman. “Without it things could have been a lot different. I would never undertake a trip like this without one.

“We set the PLB off and waited for help, hoping it had worked. Meanwhile back at home the search and rescue team had been in touch with our families who later said that their communication and support was incredible. The distress signal fired from the device prompted immediate action from Search and Rescue and they were able to pin point our exact location. “We were relieved to see the plane arrive. It was such a relief to know that people were aware of our trouble and help was probably on the way. Around 7am the following morning police and ambulance 4WD vehicles arrived after travelling 9 hours through the night to reach us. The nurse decided due to my injury that a helicopter was the best way to transport me to Birdsville clinic for treatment and within the hour I was airlifted out of there. The rescue team was amazing; it took them a further 12 hours in extremely hot conditions to get back to Birdsville, such a dedicated effort that I will be forever thankful for.”

An AMSA spokesperson added: “The aircraft is drop-capable so they can open up the back and drop survival equipment out. They dropped communications equipment (to the motorcyclists). It’s good that they had a personal locator beacon to alert AMSA to the fact that they were in trouble. It’s pretty remote out there.”