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Amalgamated Helicopters in tramper’s rescue

Rescuers have successfully responded to two emergency radio beacon alerts less than 24 hours apart, with the latest response resulting in the speedy rescue of a tramper in the Tararua ranges today. Just as Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) staff were wrapping up a successful search for the source of an emergency radio beacon discovered in a lost backpack near the Hollyford track, they were also busy coordinating the rescue of a tramper who set off his emergency beacon in the Tararua ranges about 10am today.

Mike Phethean of Wellington (age unknown) was flown by an Amalgamated Helicopters pilot to Masterton for treatment, after suffering from an eye infection while tramping on a ridge in the Tararuas about 18km east of Levin. His beacon was detected by an overflying aircraft just before 10am, and reported to RCCNZ, who had also picked up the beacon alert via satellite, and immediately dispatched the helicopter into the area to rescue him. He was picked up by the helicopter at 1 noon. RCCNZ Search and Rescue officer John Dickson said Mr Phethean’s rescue had been carried out in difficult conditions, with low cloud and poor visibility making flying difficult. A Police-led land-based search and rescue team had also been on standby if the helicopter hadn’t been able to locate him.

“While the two alerts so close together have made for a busy 24 hours, the latest incident in particular has highlighted how effective beacons can be in alerting rescuers to those who may be in difficulty,” Mr Dickson said. “Carrying an emergency beacon – particularly the newer 406 Megahertz type beacon – is an excellent safety precaution which can help speed up the rescue response, and we encourage anyone who maybe going into the bush, out on the water or operating an aircraft to carry one.”


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