121.5 MHz personal locator beacons (abbreviated PLB and also called distress beacons) will not be detected by satellite after 1 February 2009 – you must switch to a 406 MHz PLB as soon as possible. Do not risk your life by using a 121.5 MHz PLB.
The objectives of FMR are to:
Recently a bushwalker slipped and sustained an injury while climbing a waterfall in a relatively remote part of Brisbane Forest Park. After assessment by others in his group, a call to 000 was made from an adjacent high ridge and a helicopter evacuation was made by RESCUE 500. The group had a 406 MHz personal locator beacon (PLB) and it was activated.
The assessment, treatment and evacuation of an injured bushwalker are activities requiring more knowledge and experience than is described here; this item only sets out a few points noted by the group that they thought needed emphasising.
The 000 operator on the telephone and the pilot of the helicopter wanted location as latitude and longitude (lat-long). They do not use any other type of coordinates and they do not do conversions. The 000 operator did not know where Brisbane Forest Park was.
So: know how to determine lat-long from your topo map and know how to set your GPS to show lat-long.
Always carry a PLB when route access is difficult. Even though the injury occurred within a few km of roads and facilities, a ground evacuation was out of the question. The helicopter pilot through phone and radio requested the PLB to be activated twice to assist with location (Brisbane Forest Park has a dense tree canopy) - first when initially locating, then again when returning from re-fuelling and the PLB had been switched off.
Always carry something to assist the pilot see you through the trees - it is more difficult from above than you think. Reflective foil space blankets and bright colour clothing were used in the above rescue.
Keep away from the helicopter's powerful downdraft as much as possible or get a helmet. Severe injuries have occurred due to falling tree branches broken by the downdraft.
Use 000 as your mobile emergency number. You know and remember 000 so use it. IF you don't get connected or appear to have no signal, try 112 as this number can use signal from another provider. Click here for information on Calling the Emergency Call Service from a mobile phone.
...and, of course, always have the relevant topo map with you and know where you are.