The day I triggered my PLB

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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 26 Apr, 2022 1:52 pm

Late to this thread but glad Crollsurf had a good outcome, much to be learnt out of the story.

On the issue of PLB vs 2-way communicators, my understanding has always been that the PLB in general has better antenna than the available 2-way communicators. This could be the difference b/n being heard or not when in a narrow gully or other poor reception areas. Is this not the case? Two way comm is beneficial but must be heard first. I carry a PLB, 2nd unit now and spend the extra time updating my trip plan on AMSA’s site before every significant trip, assume it would mitigate some of the expectation issues SARS teams would care for.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby GBW » Tue 26 Apr, 2022 5:07 pm

GPSGuided wrote:On the issue of PLB vs 2-way communicators, my understanding has always been that the PLB in general has better antenna than the available 2-way communicators. This could be the difference b/n being heard or not when in a narrow gully or other poor reception areas. Is this not the case? Two way comm is beneficial but must be heard first. I carry a PLB, 2nd unit now and spend the extra time updating my trip plan on AMSA’s site before every significant trip, assume it would mitigate some of the expectation issues SARS teams would care for.


Another advantage of PLB's is the 121.5 MHz Homing Beacon which I'm not sure the 2-ways or Spot have. Is this necessary with the accuracy of modern gps?
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 26 Apr, 2022 5:42 pm

GBW wrote:Another advantage of PLB's is the 121.5 MHz Homing Beacon which I'm not sure the 2-ways or Spot have. Is this necessary with the accuracy of modern gps?

My understanding is that modern tech has made it of less value.


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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Gadgetgeek » Tue 26 Apr, 2022 8:43 pm

PLB vs 2-way, If you are in a situation where the rescue crew no longer has communication to base, and is trying to find you based on a grid-ref (an unlikely situation in many cases, but not out of the realm of possibility) the PLB lets them triangulate and find the signal source very accurately. Modern GPS is "pretty good" but Australia moves fast enough that it needs periodic recalibration, and that has caused problems in the past. I'm also very sure that selective availability would not be engaged as most emergency services have gotten used to the high accuracy level, however, if the US decided to, they can turn the accuracy down if they desire. y2k they shut it off, and 9/11 they may have made the accuracy much worse, so those are the level of events it takes for them to mess with it.

In related news, a buddy had to use his spot to get rescued off a mountain not long ago, and while they could have self-rescued, they would have had to overnight in a somewhat exposed location and would have put more rescue crew in danger in a search, where as they were able to have two specialists locate their position and find a safe route to them for the night, helo'ed at dawn.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby GBW » Tue 26 Apr, 2022 8:54 pm

GPSGuided wrote:
GBW wrote:Another advantage of PLB's is the 121.5 MHz Homing Beacon which I'm not sure the 2-ways or Spot have. Is this necessary with the accuracy of modern gps?

My understanding is that modern tech has made it of less value.


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I can imagine the homing beacon would have greater application at sea where you could drift from your last known position. For bushwalking this is unlikely to happen as you'd most probably stay put.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Walk_fat boy_walk » Tue 26 Apr, 2022 9:50 pm

crollsurf wrote:My ankle/fibula is healing nicely, still a bit swollen and bruised, but not much now. I'm walking around the house bare footed but still using a CAM boot when I go out. No crutch or walking stick. Definitely not suggesting you use these services as a "Get out of jail free" card but I'm so happy I didn't damage my ankle further, it looks like I'll make a full recovery. However I think I'll stick to the tracks for some time/years to come and I'm OK with that.

Good to hear.... did they say whether or not you regain full function?

Re plb vs 2way, it's pretty simple... plb coverage is global and only requires clear access to sky while 2way needs coverage, ie a tower or same-channel device (in direct mode) somewhere nearby and is subject to obstructions, terrain etc, the degree of which depends on the frequency (vhf better in those environments than uhf all other things being equal, for example). And yes 121.5 mhz homing is far less critical with gps-enabled 406 mhz plb being the norm these days



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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby wayno » Wed 27 Apr, 2022 5:16 am

GBW wrote:
GPSGuided wrote:On the issue of PLB vs 2-way communicators, my understanding has always been that the PLB in general has better antenna than the available 2-way communicators. This could be the difference b/n being heard or not when in a narrow gully or other poor reception areas. Is this not the case? Two way comm is beneficial but must be heard first. I carry a PLB, 2nd unit now and spend the extra time updating my trip plan on AMSA’s site before every significant trip, assume it would mitigate some of the expectation issues SARS teams would care for.


Another advantage of PLB's is the 121.5 MHz Homing Beacon which I'm not sure the 2-ways or Spot have. Is this necessary with the accuracy of modern gps?


depends on the two way device you are comparing it to.... also , some two way devices use different satellites from each other... and those different satellite networks have differing coverage. garmin inreaches have more comprehensive satellite coverage away from the equator than the network Spot devices use.. i've used both and the spots have failed to work a lot of the time under any decent bush canopy... whereas the inreach kept on working. the spot is less likely to work in a canyon. i wouldnt say the inreach is as good as a PLB in a canyon but i'd rate it much higher than a Spot.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby crollsurf » Thu 28 Apr, 2022 8:05 pm

Walk_fat boy_walk wrote:Good to hear.... did they say whether or not you regain full function?


Got back from the hospital today, 6 week check up and the doctor said there is no reason why I shouldn't. I suspect later in life, it might play up a bit in cold weather if I don't keep it warm.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby GPSGuided » Thu 28 Apr, 2022 8:16 pm

Crollsurf, depending on the exact nature of your fracture, be prepared for some solid physio in the months ahead. After all that, muscles weaken and joints stiffen even if it’s not an intra-articular fracture. It’ll all take a bit of time but be patient.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby crollsurf » Thu 28 Apr, 2022 10:39 pm

GPSGuided wrote:Crollsurf, depending on the exact nature of your fracture, be prepared for some solid physio in the months ahead. After all that, muscles weaken and joints stiffen even if it’s not an intra-articular fracture. It’ll all take a bit of time but be patient.

Yeah, another 6 weeks minimum I've been told and even then... off the see the physio in a couple of days. Also been told a balance board will become my best friend.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby EGM » Fri 29 Apr, 2022 2:20 pm

It's been very informative to read everyones experiences, I'm of course hoping to never need it but it'll be reassuring to have an idea of what's going on if I ever do need a rescue.

Great to hear everyone is healing up well. Bones tend to heal really well so you should he confident in having good outcomes, the worst bit is the tedious physio exercises but oath do they help.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Hermione » Fri 29 Apr, 2022 5:38 pm

Thanks for sharing this, it’s so easy to be judgemental about those needing rescue in reality this could happen to any of us. I have it pegged that a fractured ankle is the most likely cause of me needing rescue, I figure I might manage self rescue if it was a broken wrist as I wouldn’t have to walk in it (but I might feel differently once I experienced the pain!). We walked many years without carrying a beacon but we now have a PLB and an In Reach Mini. We got the Inreach after we realised that the person if the person carrying the beacon suffered a fall and was inaccessible it wouldn’t help much. I like the back up these provide but I wouldn’t really want mobile phone coverage everywhere as not having it is part of the adventure in a way, as I’m old enough to remember not having mobile phones! We’ve come close to setting off our beacon a couple of times, once for an eye injury and once for a hypothermic stranger, but luckily both times managed to deal with the situation.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby crollsurf » Fri 06 May, 2022 12:48 pm

I know a few are interest in my recovery but if not, I wouldn't bother reading any further.

Recap: Rolled my ankle and fractured my Fibula just over 6 weeks ago. Four days later got surgery and had a plate and 6 screws inserted. Ten days in a cast then 4 weeks in a CAM boot. (although I was walking around the house without it after 3 weeks). I was then told to start getting Physio.

First 1 hour session with the Physio ($135), they gave me some exercises to do. Also to ice the swelling at night and start taking anti-inflammatories. But mainly they measured a number of key indicators to help track recovery. They measured a few things including the swelling around the ankle. And gave me this test to see how far from the wall I could place my foot (toes pointing to the wall) while still being able to touch the wall with my knee. My good ankle, I could touch the wall with my foot 14cm from the wall. My bad ankle I could only get 1cm away from the wall. Apparently 14cm is really good and for normal movement, it's 7cm.

Second 40 min appointment ($101) 4 days later, after doing daily exercises, I could get 3cm from the wall (2cm gain) and after some treatment 4cms, just. Expectations are 1cm/week so I'm doing well but as the weeks progress, it's expected I'll get less and less improvement. For the next month at least I should be getting 1cm or better. The swelling had gone down 1cm.
He also said my Proprioception should come back in about 6 months which is good news. I thought it might take years.

Sessions are now weekly and it appears every time, I'll be given extra exercises to do.

Never been to a Physio and wasn't a fan either but its good to know your doing the right things, and that your improvement is being measured. Also, they're like a personal trainer, so you're going to keep up the work rate to make sure you don't get in trouble :lol:

Walk_fat boy_walk wrote:Good to hear.... did they say whether or not you regain full function?


The surgeon said yes, the Physio says I may never get back to 14cm of reach to the wall. So the answer is still yes but I may not make a full 100% recovery. If 7cm is considered fully functional, I'll be happy with 10cm but I'll keep working it and get back to as close to 14cm as possible.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby matagi » Sat 07 May, 2022 7:48 am

May I ask why you are/were not a fan of physios?
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby crollsurf » Sat 07 May, 2022 11:55 am

matagi wrote:May I ask why you are/were not a fan of physios?

For a long time they sounded like an expensive Masseuse who didn't give you a proper massage. Then my partner went to see one for a bad back. Got no remedial treatment, just given a book to borrow! I figured it was a scam like Iridology or Homeopathy. I now know that's not the case but still, can't help being somewhat suspicious.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby north-north-west » Sat 07 May, 2022 1:38 pm

crollsurf wrote:
matagi wrote:May I ask why you are/were not a fan of physios?

For a long time they sounded like an expensive Masseuse who didn't give you a proper massage. Then my partner went to see one for a bad back. Got no remedial treatment, just given a book to borrow! I figured it was a scam like Iridology or Homeopathy. I now know that's not the case but still, can't help being somewhat suspicious.


Most are good but I've had a couple of bad encounters and it does tend to make you wary.

Tore the medial ligament in the left knee while on a walk up in northern NSW. Limped miles back to the car, visited the hospital in Lismore the next day, they checked it throughly, did an ultrasound and everything, strapped me up, gave me crutches and sent me off. Went to a sports physio (recommended by a fellow Taekwondoin) when back in Victoria. He did some interesting things to my back and refused to accept there was anything wrong with my knee because, according to him, I was only limping due to my back being out of alignment. No mate, my back looks out of alignment because I can't walk normally because I've torn my *&%$#! medial ligament you arrogant twit!

You get people like that in all professions.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby headwerkn » Sat 07 May, 2022 9:12 pm

The Tasmanian Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service did an information and Q&A afternoon at Find Your Feet in Hobart last Sunday. Getting an understanding of exactly what's involved with wilderness rescues was absolutely brilliant, and quite frankly really important/invaluable to know if you're a regular bushwalker who maybe one day might need their help.

The one thing that really struck a chord with me was when they were asked about how they felt about being called out for 'spurious' issues like leech bites* and people 'just being tired', etc. Their response was they were actually far, far more concerned about injured/struggling walkers trying to keep on going, and delaying their rescue until things got worse, simply to save face or not be considered 'a burden'.

In the OP's case he knew he was properly injured immediately and did absolutely the right thing calling in the Calvary. The issue appears to be - and the staffers gave a few recent examples - of walkers with brooding leg and knee injuries that they tried to push through, only to do more damage to themselves and eventually becoming completely immobile. Worse, by trying to continue to push on the injury, they've actually done permanent damage to themselves. The sort of damage that really affects your ability to bushwalk again.

Likewise, similar stories about people who were "just struggling a bit", but continued to push on until they were "really struggling" and now in a far more difficult/complicated position to be actually rescued, to the point where their lives are at risk.

It's serious food for thought, countering the attitude of "I'm not going to get rescued unless I really, really need to be!" I think we all (understandably) carry as a matter of pride as competent, prepared bushwalkers. You can be the experienced, prepared person out there and still step awkwardly and slip.

The crew who spoke were just wonderful, and I think summed it best with (paraphrasing heavily): the service still costs the same and we still paid regardless of if we're doing a rescue or playing Scrabble back at base. You might as well give us something to do. Err on the side of caution. We'd much rather return you back to your car than to a hospital. We'd really prefer not be recovering a body.

Something to mull over.

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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby Warin » Sat 07 May, 2022 11:38 pm

wayno wrote:depends on the two way device you are comparing it to.... also , some two way devices use different satellites from each other... and those different satellite networks have differing coverage. garmin inreaches have more comprehensive satellite coverage away from the equator than the network Spot devices use.. i've used both and the spots have failed to work a lot of the time under any decent bush canopy... whereas the inreach kept on working. the spot is less likely to work in a canyon. i wouldnt say the inreach is as good as a PLB in a canyon but i'd rate it much higher than a Spot.


The above is for the communication (GPSGuided question) not the location (relates to GBW's question).

The 121.5 MHz signal can be helpfull but hte GPS position should be good enough.

OZ moves northwards at 2 cm per yer IIRC ...

Correction ~ 68 cm per year... .. so in 10 years that would be 6.8 metres ... I don't see 6.8 metres as being an issue at all! In 20 years .. 13.6 metres... PLB batteries would be well on the way out by then.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby GPSGuided » Sun 08 May, 2022 9:46 am

Thanks Warin.
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Re: The day I triggered my PLB

Postby EGM » Sun 22 May, 2022 6:51 pm

crollsurf wrote:
matagi wrote:May I ask why you are/were not a fan of physios?

For a long time they sounded like an expensive Masseuse who didn't give you a proper massage. Then my partner went to see one for a bad back. Got no remedial treatment, just given a book to borrow! I figured it was a scam like Iridology or Homeopathy. I now know that's not the case but still, can't help being somewhat suspicious.


From mine and people I knows experiences physios can range from overpriced massage therapists / snake oil salesmen all the way to extremely professional medical professionals who follow evidence based practice. Sounds like you might have found a good one and I'm glad the injury is healing well.

I'm studying exercise science at uni and from memory a 12cm distance on the knee to wall test is considered acceptable for an athlete so you're doing very well with 14cm. There's also no reason to think you're broken ankle used to be 14cm, there is usually a disparity in these tests so don't be disheartened if it never gets there. My left ankle is about 5cm worse than my right and I've never broken either.
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