ABOVE MAIN : When in remote regions, a PLB is a comforting companion.
ABOVE INSERT : The Rescue Me PLB1 - a more compact PLB is not available as yet, but why would you need it? The PLB1 is the perfect compact carry size for every occassion.
Having been a boater for the past 50-odd years, more recent times have seen me carrying an EPIRB (Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon) on board in case I come to some sort of grief when offshore.
Once triggered, an EPIRB emits a signal to the satellites above, which transfer it to Maritime Services in DC which identifies the user and sets the rescue wheels in motion.
Such technology has only been available to the masses for the past two decades but the carriage of EPIRBs quickly became law and still is for all vessels operating offshore.
These days, as well as running firearm safety courses for newcomers to the game, I operate an animal control business specialising in dog-trapping and culling ferals as well as other beasts under mitigation permits. Cutting loose from our real estate, my wife and I went nomadic with a 22.6ft off-road caravan and 6.5-tonne four-wheel drive truck with a two-man buggy on its back.
Home is now where I pull up and that could be virtually anywhere but is pretty much the same places I do my feral animal control. More often than not, it is out of mobile telephone and radio range from others.
Always in the back of my mind were the multiple snake bite victims in the west just this year alone. Tip the buggy over, break a leg, be gored by a scrub bull, mauled by a savage dog, fall down a mine shaft; anything is a possibility out in the vast wilderness.
If I continue to pursue this type of career, I need to take steps to look after myself a little better and a mate alerted me to Ocean Signal's Rescue Me PLB1 personal locator beacon. What sold me was how small and lightweight it was. It seemed absolutely ideal for wearing on a belt or on a backpack strap.
The manufacturer claims this unit is typically 30 per cent smaller than other PLBs and it has a seven-year warranty with a seven-year battery life. The GPS system it utilises has 66 channels so fast accurate positioning is possible. Subscription to the network is free.
ABOVE LEFT : Instructions for use are printed on the side of the PLB1.
ABOVE CENTER : The foil strip antenna must be extended to allow operation.
ABOVE RIGHT : This spring-loaded door protects the activation button from accidental use.
The unit came with a cradle that allows it to be strapped to a life jacket, which I left back in storage and instead used the floatation pouch.
Deployment of the aerial, which is a metal strap similar to a pull-out tape measure, is simple and activation is done by yanking the black tab on its top-left corner of the housing.
A spring-loaded flap covers the activation button to prevent accidental usage and under here there is also a test button. A moulded lens on the unit face emits one candela of light when in operation. The link to the satellites is via 406MHz and a 121.5MHz homing beacon aids in final location by search and rescue teams.
Once the unit is in motion, it will have a battery life of 24 hours, which makes it unsuitable for use as a sole EPIRB for a vessel; they require a 48-hour battery life. Measuring 75x51x32.5mm and weighing 116g (4.1oz), the Rescue Me PLB1 will literally fit in the palm of your hand.
Should you be on land and need emergency help, keep the unit attached to your person but with the aerial extended and pointing towards the heavens.
Does it work? I have no idea and hope I never find out, but needless to say it is a comforting thought having it in the vest when I am out and about. The recommended retail price of $399 is less scary than the symptoms of a western brown snake bite.