A 60-year-old Auckland woman with serious injuries has been flown to Hawkes Bay Hospital after a distress beacon was activated in the southern Urewera National Park at around 11am on 9 February 2016.
The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) directed the Hawke’s Bay Rescue Helicopter to the scene, around 27km south west of the southern edge of Lake Waikaremoana.
The tramping party of three was traversing a washout on the track when the patient slipped and fell about 40 metres down a steep shale slope, sustaining injuries to her head, neck, chest and ankles in the fall. The location proved too dangerous for the remainder of the tramping party to reach the woman and they activated their Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). On arrival, the Hawke’s Bay Rescue Helicopter winched a paramedic to the scene to provide treatment before the flight to Hawke’s Bay Hospital.
RCCNZ search and rescue mission coordinator Dave Wilson said the operation again highlighted the importance of carrying a personal locator beacon (PLB) when travelling to remote areas.
“This is a very isolated part of the country, with no cellphone coverage. Without a PLB, it would have taken a considerable amount of time for the party to raise the alarm,” he said.
By law, all distress beacons must be registered. This provides emergency contact information and allows RCCNZ to quickly ascertain if a beacon alert is genuine or inadvertent.