The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is urging people to ensure they dispose of their obsolete and unwanted distress beacons correctly after emergency services spent more than six hours homing a beacon eventually found dumped in bushland on the Sunshine Coast over the weekend.
An overflying aircraft detected a 121.5MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) at about 5am on Saturday, 6th September in the Caloundra area.
A RACQ Careflight rescue helicopter was tasked to respond by AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre. The beacon was eventually located in bushland near Eudlo dumped with other rubbish around midday on Saturday.
This is the second incident of an improperly disposed 121.5MHz distress beacon in the Caloundra area in the past month.
AMSA strongly encourages people to take their old beacons to Battery World stores to avoid them activating inadvertently and resulting in costly search efforts and tying up emergency response assets that could be needed in real search and rescue situations.
AMSA urges people to replace older style 121.5MHz distress beacons as these were phased out in 2009.
People must have a 406MHz beacon, preferably with GPS capability, as the older style beacons are no longer detected by satellite.
121.5MHz beacons are not reliable in an emergency situation, relying on aircraft overhead to detect the signal but this is not guaranteed.
Further information on beacons, where and how to dispose of them, or to disconnect the battery is available at www.beacons.amsa.gov.au