Luck favours the prepared

They are the words I preach to my friends who give me grief for my immaculately organised Camebak during rides into the backcountry.

“You won’t be writing me off if we get in trouble,” I mumble under my breath.

How many of you carry a registered Personal Locator Beacon?

How many of your friends know you are carrying one and how to use it in the event of an emergency in case you bin it?

A registered Personal Locator Beacon is the first item I pack if I am mountain biking into remote locations.

We all get caught up in the latest bikes and componentry with manufacturers telling us we need this latest oval chain ring, but we often over look safety.

It’s amazing how many people skimp at a couple of hundred dollars on a vital piece of safety equipment but cannot wait to spend their hard earned on that latest carbon wheel set.

With modern advancements in mountain bike technology, this enables us to head out further into remote locations more often these days.

New Zealand is a backcountry mecca for mountain biking and with a fantastic hut network courtesy of DOCS, multi day rides and becoming more commonplace.

A registered PLB should be the first thing you think about.

These little devices are amazing and have many contingencies built in to pinpoint your location to search and rescue teams in the event of an emergency.

A PLB is authorised for use only during situations of grave or imminent danger.

It is only to be activated when all other means of self – rescue have been exhausted. Please remember this. There have been many instances when rescue helicopters have been tasked to look for people who have activated beacons due to inconvenience or minor injuries. This prevents rescue helicopters from being able to respond to REAL emergencies during that time.

All PLB’s have to be registered with your local authority (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) for all the Australian riders and (Maritime New Zealand) for all the kiwi riders.

Aussie riders heading to New Zealand with Australian registered PLB’s please note your beacon WILL work in New Zealand.

AMSA and Maritime New Zealand have a close working relationship in response to emergency beacons.

The ACR ResQlink Personal Locator Beacon is what I recommend due to its size and ease of use.

It has three levels of integrated signal technology – GPS positioning, a powerful 406 MHz signal and 121.5 MHz homing capability meaning the unit can quickly and accurately relay your location to world wide search and rescue satellite system typically within five minutes depending on location.

The beacon once activated will broadcast a unique registered distress signal with a GPS fix on your position. A powerful 406 MHz signal relays your information to search and rescue satellites then search and rescue coordination centres will confirm an actual emergency, and then, search and rescue teams will use a separate homing signal emitted from your beacon to pin point your location.

People often ask me about the comparison between messenger style beacons and PLB’s.

Messenger style beacons do have their place in the market with their messenger services but do run off a different emergency satellite network not the International Search and Rescue Satellite Network COSPAS SARSAT.

They rely on an annual subscription to keep them current, which costs on top of the purchase price, and do use batteries that need to be checked regularly.

Personally I want a unit that will work with no doubt in the event of an emergency and which runs off the proven COSPAS SARSAT network hence why I choose a registered 406MHz GPS enabled PLB.

Think the price of a PLB is too steep?

Split the cost with your riding buddies to keep the price down and ensure you are all familiar with its usage.

The ACR ResQlink PLB comes with a six-year battery life and when you break down the cost over that period, it’s a small price to pay for piece of mind.

MTB guiding company House Martin (Anka / Sven Martin) based in Nelson are now carrying a PLB with most of their rides deep in the backcountry and include multi day offerings.  Rod “The Rodfather” Bardsley is now also carrying a PLB whilst on assignment for SPOKE.

Please remember that being prepared for all conditions, carrying the right equipment including a PLB (on your person) and letting people know your intentions is best.

Stay safe out there and look after each other.

Complacency can be fatal and remember, “Luck favours the prepared”

Happy Trails
Mark Turner
SAR Dynamics


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