Ocean Signal’s rescueME PLB1 personal locator beacon played an integral part in the rescue of a Japanese tourist in New Zealand this year.
The 83-year-old activated his PLB1 after slipping into the river in the middle of the large Kaweka Forest Park and was subsequently picked up by a rescue helicopter.
“It saved my life! I drifted away to a small area and it was so dark I had no idea where I was,” he recalled.
The tourist was on his 21st visit to New Zealand where he spends about a month every year fishing for rainbow trout. This year, he was persuaded to carry a personal locator beacon and he chose Ocean Signal’s rescueME PLB1, mainly due to its tiny size as it is the world’s smallest personal locator beacon.
The decision proved to be timely as, while returning to his tent after a day’s fishing, he became disoriented in the dusk. After just missing his campsite in the fast-increasing gloom, he stepped on a mossy rock and fell into the river.
Concerned that he might not make it through the night, due to his high blood pressure and the possibility of freezing temperatures, he activated his rescueME PLB1. Just a few hours later, a rescue helicopter was hovering above him and, although it could not land immediately due to the lack of visibility, it returned at first light and took him to safety.
He is unsure whether he will return to fish in New Zealand, but said he will definitely bring his PLB with him if he does visit again.