A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

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A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby tasadam » Thu 22 Apr, 2010 10:57 am

Yesterday I had the need to attend the Hobart airport. On the way out, and since I was there, I called on on Rotorlift and had a chat to them about the rescue helicopter, basically wanting to know what to do if I do have to set off a PLB.

A few useful things I found out...

I already knew that the less tree cover the better for reception with the PLB.

If you put down a space blanket (shiny side up) or emergency foil bag and position the PLB on that, the signal that bounces out will bounce straight up and improve the chances of successful transmission to the satellites. Note to make sure the sheet is anchored well, the last thing you would want is for the foil sheet to blow over and cover up the PLB, preventing it from working.

A small gap in the trees is better than no gap in the trees when it comes to the winch... But obviously the clearer the better.

The guys fly with night vision goggles. These magnify light by 6000 times.
This makes night rescue possible. When it's dark, a light source such as that of the backlight of a mobile phone, a cigarette lighter, a small fire, a head torch, whatever... All stand out as really bright hot spots on the night vision. So don't rely on the PLB, if you hear the chopper coming for you, start waving the head torch or the backlight of the mobile phone display, or whatever you have.

It's a really impressive chopper they've got, I was lucky enough to have them show me up close, even opened up the back door to show how an ambulance stretcher can slide in.
It's a lot bigger when you're up close to it. I hope that's as close as I ever get to it (I hope I never need it).

EDIT, a bit more info...
I was talking to AMSA, asking if they would like to contribute anything to this discussion, they directed me to this link and advised pretty much anything worth knowing is found on this link -
http://beacons.amsa.gov.au/
They said to feel free to add their beacon registration help line number, which is 1800 406 406
Pretty easy to remember.

The number to call if you accidentally activate your beacon and need to cancel it, is found in red on the right side of this page -
http://www.amsa.gov.au/index.asp
They said either the maritime or aviation one would do, it goes through to the coordination centre in Canberra.
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby BarryJ » Thu 22 Apr, 2010 12:16 pm

Thanks for that, tasdam. I have taken the liberty of posting it on the FlyLife Forum for the benefit of the forum members there who venture off-track (with appropriate mention of the BWT Forum. of course).
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby tastrax » Thu 22 Apr, 2010 12:32 pm

tasadam wrote:...It's a lot bigger when you're up close to it.....


That's generally why they winch down a paramedic rather than land near you - imagine the rotorwash from those big blades acting on your tent! Its a pity that some of the PLB's dont have a strobe like the old EPIRBs but I guess its a battery issue. Reminds me that I must dig out the miniature strobe I have in the cupboard somewhere....
Cheers - Phil

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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby davidmorr » Thu 08 Jul, 2010 12:07 am

tastrax wrote:imagine the rotorwash from those big blades acting on your tent!
Remote Area First Aid training says when there is a helicopter involved, to make sure everything is tied down, including hats. In particular, make sure there are no fires anywhere around as they can become a raging inferno and set the surrounding bush alight. (This actually happened in a rescue in the Blue Mountains.)
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby Drifting » Thu 08 Jul, 2010 6:03 pm

where are the photos Adam???
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby tasadam » Thu 08 Jul, 2010 6:15 pm

I felt I had put them out enough by rocking up unannounced and requesting a chat and a private tour... So I left the camera in the car.
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby Drifting » Thu 08 Jul, 2010 6:22 pm

fair enough :-(
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby johnw » Thu 08 Jul, 2010 11:36 pm

davidmorr wrote:Remote Area First Aid training says when there is a helicopter involved, to make sure everything is tied down, including hats.

Yes, St John's went through that in the course I did. Particularly hats and similar loose items. Apparently they can be sucked into the air intake of the chopper.
John W

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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Fri 09 Jul, 2010 6:40 am

I heard the chopped flying over around 9pm last night. Hoping it was just a training drill or something. It was below zero degrees at 9pm and would have been an awful night to be in trouble
Nothing to see here.
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby tasadam » Tue 26 Oct, 2010 9:32 am

I just updated the first post in this topic with a bit more info.
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby Stonie » Sat 12 May, 2012 8:34 pm

Here are some pics from a rescue on the south coast track early 2008… (Not sure if it’s the same chopper that Adam is talking about?)

We found a party of two, one of the women had a badly busted ankle… no chance of walking… after slipping on the slimy duckboard just after coming down off the ironbounds (heading toward Melaleuca)
http://maps.google.com.au/maps?ll=-43.492308,146.416844&spn=0.007324,0.016512

They didn’t have a beacon… :? so we set off our older generation analogue epirb, the signal was dodgy and it took them a while to find us (if you still have an older analogue epirb you must replace it).

When you buy a digital PLB today make sure it’s a GPS equipped model

The other thing to note is the pilot told me that during the day space blankets are the best choice for signalling (waving in the air) failing that a large orange pack liner if you have one.

BTW: the rescue squad where true consummate professionals! I was in awe of the whole operation! One minute they were they were there, next thing they shot off into the sky and the bush was quiet again.
Next day we walked from there to melaleuca to get a plane out… that was a bit of a hike. :)

;)
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby Kinsayder » Sat 27 Oct, 2012 5:38 am

Great thread, Tasadam, thanks!
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby dplanet » Sat 27 Oct, 2012 12:58 pm

Online amsa was really in active mode and i got a reminder from them in regard to renewal registration of PLB early this year. Mine has been on their data for nearly 3 years (?) and fortunately it has not been used since the change of frequencies from 243 MHz to 406 MHZ.

Since having the new PLB i have not flied abroad and wonder if it is allowed in a daypack to be with me while on air? Useful to have it with you for just in case.
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby tasadam » Fri 09 Nov, 2012 9:33 pm

dplanet wrote:Since having the new PLB i have not flied abroad and wonder if it is allowed in a daypack to be with me while on air?
The best way to get an answer to this would be to specifically ask the airline.
Failing that, perhaps you could contact the PLB / EPIRB manufacturer and ask them whether they can investigate the rules and legalities of flying with one.
A quick google didn't find much, but there are a number of conflicting reports HERE and HERE.
You might find the answer HERE.

It says
Portable electronic devices containing lithium metal or lithium ion cells or batteries, such as watches, calculating machines, cameras, cellular phones, lap-top computers, camcorders, etc., when carried by passengers or crew for personal use.
Permitted in or as carry-on baggage - Yes
Permitted in or as checked in baggage - Yes
Permitted on ones person - Yes

Hope that helps.

If you do get a definitive answer, please let us know.
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby Onestepmore » Fri 07 Dec, 2012 8:03 pm

tastrax wrote: Its a pity that some of the PLB's dont have a strobe like the old EPIRBs but I guess its a battery issue. Reminds me that I must dig out the miniature strobe I have in the cupboard somewhere....


You can get strobe apps for your phone

Flashlight by Winkpass is the one I have - free version - came as an option with iPeriod free - NO SNIGGERING (actually it's a good period tracker app - you can predict wether it's 'the time' for an intended hike in the future, lol)

flashlight
strobe mode
blue green orange yellow options as well as generic out of the box white

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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby ninjapuppet » Sat 09 Mar, 2013 12:23 am

Just thought I'd add abit more information regarding SPOT and chopper rescue for mountaineers in pakistan. This statement is regarding the 2 polish climbers who made the first successful winter ascent of Broadpeak earlier this week, but then vanished just yesterday. I had been following their progress from the beginning and it is a sad day to hear about this story.



Expedition of Polish Mountaineering Association to Broad Peak – additional information, 7th March, 3:00 PM.
Due to repeated questions concerning GPS localizers and a possibility to use a rescue helicopter, we would like to inform that:

1. SPOT localizers
the expedition was equipped with a SPOT localizer and Tomasz Kowalski always carried it with him.
However, it was lost prior to summit attempt and we informed about it on one of the social portals.
- During the attempt, the team did not have any localizers.
- SPOT fails to work properly in high-altitude conditions and thus, its usefulness should not be overestimated.

2. Search, possible helicopter rescue operations in Pakistani it is possible to organize helicopter flight by means of army helicopters.
In Pakistani they may fly up to 6,700 m and may lift an injured person on a rope from approximately 6,400 m (it happened once in history).
In the area of Broad Peak the helicopters cannot land above the base camp at 4,950 m and it was pointless to use helicopters to search the terrain as the climbers (Karim Hayyat and Artur Małek) had better ways to do it yesterday. Karim’s search reached up to 7,700 m and the entire route including all the details is visible from the base camp.
A telescopes magnifies all the details. Using a helicopter does not change too much.
Summoning a helicopter and its start are not that easy and are hardly immediate. A long procedure precedes the start.
The weather on 7th March does not allow for flight and will not allow for them during the next days.

Artur Hajzer
Leader of the Polish Winter Himalayan Mountaineering.
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby paddlpop » Tue 02 Apr, 2013 8:45 pm

Recently took my PLB and GPS to Canada via the US and there were no problems carrying in cabin baggage.
Since I kayak too, I carry a personal strobe too. You can pick them up on flea bay for $20 or so. Also have a 9 pack of pen flares but am hesitant to take them in to the bush in fire season...winters another story.
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby roysta » Wed 12 Jun, 2013 5:00 pm

paddlpop wrote:Recently took my PLB and GPS to Canada via the US and there were no problems carrying in cabin baggage.
Since I kayak too, I carry a personal strobe too. You can pick them up on flea bay for $20 or so. Also have a 9 pack of pen flares but am hesitant to take them in to the bush in fire season...winters another story.


I've taken PLB and GPS units of varying types in hand luggage many times overseas.
I haven't heard of anyone having issues with them, has someone had problems?
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby GPSGuided » Wed 12 Jun, 2013 7:26 pm

roysta wrote:I've taken PLB and GPS units of varying types in hand luggage many times overseas.
I haven't heard of anyone having issues with them, has someone had problems?

+1. I have taken my GPS on planes many times and have even used it by the passenger window in full view of flight attendants. Some of them even got interested and asked me where we were. Of course, YMMV depending on the airline and country.
Just move it!
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby Ent » Mon 24 Jun, 2013 12:52 pm

Hi

The big source of confusion is Australia Post. They refuse to ship by air any lithium or l-ion battery. They will ship by road. In typical Australian O&HS over reaction they consider any device with such a battery a fire hazard. Airlines have a more sensible policy that requires the correct storage of batteries and limits the size of battery in the device so digital cameras and PLBs generally come in under the limit but check with the respective airline.

However, just ask Boeing and you will find that even with their strict safety evaluation the batteries on their new aircraft were a major safety issue resulting in the fleet been grounded. There is a reasonable chance that batteries from a shipment of computers bound from Twain to South Africa brought down a combined passenger/cargo 747. So please when shipping electronic devices consider the safety concerns and make the necessary declarations with honesty, even if in Australia Post's case they are way over the top of sensible precautions.

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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby South_Aussie_Hiker » Tue 09 Jul, 2013 5:30 pm

As someone who flies passenger airliners with Australia Post consignments (among other freight), I couldn't disagree with you more, ENT.

Taking something as carry-on versus carrying that same thing in a cargo hold as part of freight consignment/s is a completely different ball game for an absolute multitude of reasons.

The rules are most definitely not over the top.
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby Travis22 » Tue 09 Jul, 2013 6:05 pm

I dont see anything wrong with what Ent is saying.

The whole LiIon battery thing is a funny one. I have seen customs Australia confiscate (in the cases i know about) 18650 Battery Cells from OS deliveries, however i dont think this is the norm. I guess it depends on the time of day and the inspector you get. Personally ive never had any LiIon cells confiscated.

Ive purchased quite a few 18650 cells myself and if shipped within AU, they are always packaged and labeled ROAD FREIGHT only. It makes me laugh.

FWIW, most laptop battery packs are made up of 18650 cells.

Travis.
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby photohiker » Tue 09 Jul, 2013 6:08 pm

South_Aussie_Hiker wrote:The rules are most definitely not over the top.


Agree. AusPost are acting responsibly for the benefit of airline passengers and for their freight handlers. Airlines request that Lithium batteries be carried in hand luggage because a lithium battery issue can be dealt with in the cabin but not in the hold.

I agree it is frustrating to have to remove lithiums for Air Freight or send the item road but the reasons behind it are sound.
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby sthughes » Tue 09 Jul, 2013 7:15 pm

But how come a mobile/iPod/laptop with its lithium battery can be carried as check in baggage, but not as freight? What's the difference?
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 09 Jul, 2013 7:59 pm

It's risk management isn't it? Risk can't be zero but can be minimised. It's just an executive decision that does not have to be 100% logical.
Just move it!
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby photohiker » Tue 09 Jul, 2013 10:55 pm

sthughes wrote:But how come a mobile/iPod/laptop with its lithium battery can be carried as check in baggage, but not as freight? What's the difference?


It's not quite that simple. Small lithiums in equipment can be checked into the hold, but larger batteries have restrictions.

Image
(pruned to show lithium)

http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airline ... /global/en

Worth noting that most camera batteries are well under 100Wh (10Wh here) Macbook Pro batteries approach 100Wh, MacBook Air is under half that. Maybe that's why security ignored the half dozen spare camera batteries I carried to EU recently?

General Freight. TNT has this to say on their website:
Why are Lithium Batteries classified as DG?


Lithium batteries are considered as hazardous goods due to the fact that they can overheat and ignite under certain conditions.

Following several serious (fire) incidents during transport, the regulations for this product type were adjusted and the more stringent regulatory requirements were introduced in 2009.
Classification / Identification

All shipments containing Lithium Batteries are subject to dangerous goods regulations for air, road and sea transport.

All lithium batteries are Class 9, Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods.


TNT requirements for 'excepted' Lithium batteries (PDF) (If cells do not reach standards for exception, they must be shipped under full Dangerous goods class 9 shipping and packing requirements)

Dangerous Goods shipping is routine all around the world, but it is also a minefield for shippers and carriers. Penalties for shipping Dangerous Goods without correct identification and documentation are horrific because of the hazard to transport staff and passengers of aircraft.

Worksafe Vic dangerous goods transport faqs
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby walkerchris77 » Wed 09 Jul, 2014 12:06 pm

A bit ironic that a freight company called TNT travel on plane. Lol
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Re: A bit of useful rescue helicopter / PLB info

Postby NathanaelB » Fri 11 Jul, 2014 8:32 pm

dplanet wrote:Since having the new PLB i have not flied abroad and wonder if it is allowed in a daypack to be with me while on air? Useful to have it with you for just in case.


Have never thought to ask — I just do it. Doesn't make sense to stash a $500 device that could save my life (and others') in the cargo hold … 20 metres is as good as a mile if it's not within reach when something goes down. Which hopefully it never does …
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