The Latest News and Rescue Stories

In her own words tramper / hiker Wendy Allardice recounts how her Fast Find PLB helped rescue her from inaccesible countryside after breakign her leg in a fall.

"When asked what I would like for Xmas, being an active regular tramper, I decided I would like a PLB.  It was to be an above-average present, dollar-wise.   I checked around and eventually we bought the McMurdo Fast Find PLB from Marinair, near Wellington airport, the day before Christmas 2009.   I joked at the time, "How can I be so excited about something I hope I'll never have to use!"
 
I set it up with all the registrations etc and carried it with me on day tramps and overnight trips everywhere I went - mostly in the Tararuas.   The weight of all my tramping stuff was known to the last few grams, and the camera was often left out of the pack when trying to reduce the load.    The PLB, in its comforting little yellow jacket, was ALWAYS in my pack.   Until 15 August 2013, when it was "set off".
 
The story of when it was "set off" is rather embarrassing to relate - considering how many long, fit trips I had done - often off-track.   Due to be part of an "advance party" into a hut in the Orongorongo Valley to help set up for a celebration, I tripped over a bollard at the start of the day.   I had a larger than usual pack for a day trip and fell very heavily.   Once back on my feet I realised my leg was sore, but could take my weight, and I decided to continue slowly.   I walked in to the hut.   "Don't sit down for long," someone said, "keep that leg muscle moving!"  After lunch I set off ahead of everyone else to walk out.
 
To cut this story to the chase, I walked/hobbled for 2-3 hours before suddenly coming to a complete standstill - almost a state of collapse.   After being ministered to by fellow trampers, and sitting for a while, it was suggested I try to take weight on my leg.   I realised immediately it was impossible.   Even with their help there is no way I would have been able to get up Jacobs Ladder and then, what is over an hour's walk at normal speed, back to the cars.   I was grateful I was with about 8 people I knew well, all experienced trampers, who would make sensible decisions.   After conferring and considering options, they asked for permission to set off my beacon.  A couple of them walked a very short distance down onto the wide, Orongorongo river flats to do this, and 40 minutes later we heard the helicopter.   It was a huge relief.   From there everything went like clockwork.    From being in the bush to being wheeled along a hospital corridor seemed to take no time at all.   My "sore leg" turned out to be a "complex spiral fracture of the tibia", and everyone expressed amazement that I had managed to walk on it at all.    I was in hospital for some days and came home in plaster from toe to groin.   Seven months later I am just free of plaster, moonboots and crutches and starting to do some short, very easy tramps.   So I need a working PLB again.
 
The reason I bought the PLB originally was so I could contribute something worthwhile to my tramping group.   Several of them had GPSs, and were skilled at using them - and compasses, of course - but I am not good with technology.   A PLB seemed the perfect thing for me to carry.   Since I bought mine a number of others in the tramping club have acquired their own - trampers being the self-sufficient, independent lot they tend to be.   
 
While I am rather ashamed of my story (and certainly my stupidity at walking on a broken leg for several hours) it does show how hugely helpful it can be to carry a PLB - even so close to a road end. "