Life-Saving Tech: How a Last-Minute Purchase Averted a Motorbike Disaster

wave decor
1 lives saved
Challenging Terrain
Crash or collision
Rescue location
Warbro Brk Rd, Willi Willi NSW 2440, Australia -30.9638317°S, 152.378925°E
Rescue team
Local Search and Rescue
Rescue duration

What happened?

I was on a 5-day motorbike tour in Australia, riding from Canberra to Coffs Harbour, NSW, through remote dirt roads and country towns. This was my second tour, and I considered myself a fairly experienced, albeit average, rider.

On the first night, the company organizing the tour was selling the Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1. I had thought about buying one a few times but had never actually done so. For some reason, late that Sunday evening, I decided to get one, just in case.

The first four days went beautifully, with fantastic riding, great stops, and an overall amazing time. On the fifth and final day, while riding somewhere between Port Macquarie and Kempsey in NSW, I was moving at a brisk pace and started paying less attention than required. I came in a little too hot into a corner, hit an exposed rock on the gravel road, and whooska—missed the bridge and went into the creek that I should have crossed instead. I happened to be recording at the time, so you can see a video of what occurred (here).

After a few minutes of recovering from the shock and ensuring I wasn’t in immediate danger, I managed to recover my mobile phone from the mount on the handlebars, where it was submerged in the creek. Fortunately, it was still working, but I had no reception.

There were about 150 other riders around me, some ahead, and most still behind. I listened for them and started throwing my helmet up onto the roadside as they approached. Unfortunately, no one saw it. I then started throwing my gloves, but that didn’t work either. A few minutes passed, and I realized it was unlikely anyone would see me. I managed to retrieve my tail bag, also submerged and attached to the bike, where the PLB was situated. Once retrieved, I activated it and felt the sweet relief of knowing help was on the way once those little lights started flashing.

More time passed, and a recovery vehicle went by without stopping. A few minutes later, Dave, one of the recovery drivers, came walking back onto the bridge to pick up the glove he thought I had dropped. From there, help arrived.

The amazing thing about the PLB was that when the ambulance and police arrived, they already had all of my details and information about what I was doing, which I had loaded and registered with the PLB on that Sunday night before I left. Despite Dave arriving and calling 000, emergency services were already well on their way, significantly reducing the time I had to wait for medical assistance.

Overall, I’ll never travel remotely without a PLB again. For work, I spend a lot of time traveling in Western Queensland and up in the Cape. I previously hadn’t had a PLB with me, but I will now.

Thanks, Ocean Signal, for making such a great little life-saving device.

Words of wisdom

Always wear the correct safety equipment and carry a PLB.

Thank you note to the Ocean Signal team

Activating the recue beacon gave me the confidence to know that, if I was patient, help was coming and I wasn’t going to be alone for long. Thank you for helping me in my time of need.