A PLB (Personal Locator beacon) is a portable, lightweight emergency locator beacon, a smaller land-use version of the EPIRB(Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) and ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) that boaters and pilots have been using for over 20 years.
Designed for hunters, wilderness campers, climbers, and others who find themselves lost or injured, which means they would be in need of rescue. This system is DEDICATED Exclusively to Search and Rescue, operates 24/7, 365 days a year, detects emergency transmissions via satellite and tracks
them to the individual.
The satellite system used is called COSPAS-SARSAT and is an international, humanitarian satellite sponsored by The United States, Canada, Russia, and France. The system will reduce alert time to search and rescue when a distress signal occurs.
And according to experts who analyze thousands of SAR (Search and Rescue) related incidents, the main cause for rescue is outdoorsmen taking unnecessary risks beyond their skill level and experience. And beyond the capability and reliability of the equipment they have.
The COSPAS-SARSAT system has helped save over 20,500 lives worldwide since 1982.
SARSAT (Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking). COSPAS(“Cosmicheskaya Sistyema Poiska Avariynich Sudovâ), Russian translation, “Space System for Search of Vessels in Distress”. These satellites orbit the earth, every 103 minutes.
PLBs transmit on two frequencies, 406 MHz, and 121.5 MHz. The 406 MHz frequency is the emerging technology that is reducing the role of the 121.5 MHz frequency because of the high number of false alerts from the past. The use of 121.5 is limited to aiding as a ‘homing signal’ inside of the ‘406 Type’. Also manufacturers are using GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) chips to provide accurate locating to about 100 yards, greatly reducing the search area. Each Unit must be registered, free of charge, with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) who maintains the database for emergency beacons in the U.S. This allows (SAR) to know who owns the beacon and will reduce false alerts.These life saving units will work in the most remote places; Death Valley, Northwest Territories, North Pole. They will work in 125 Degrees heat to 40 degrees below 0.
Rifle Accuracy Reports recommends that all outdoors enthusiasts take and use cell phones, satellite phones, GPS devices with map capabilities, and 2-way radios. Together, a person would have the complete emergency communications set. The cost for one of these Life Saving Devices is in the $700 to $1200 dollar range (USD).
The scenario for activating the 406 MHz PLB would go like this:
- The Outdoorsman is injured, and/or distressed.
- After assessing the situation, and exhausting all means to remedy the situation on his own, He activates the PLB, connecting the signal toSARSAT/COSPAS satellite system, (LEOSAR AND/OR GEOSAR satellites).
3.-4.-5. The satellites send their signal to Ground Control Centers, Mission Control Centers, and Rescue Coordination Centers, within the hour.
- Who then get the local SAR(Search and Rescue) to the Distressed Outdoorsman.
In the U.S. Rescues are handled by The U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol, Air National Guard, State and Local Authorities. It must be understood that the person must exhaust all reasonable means of survival and self extraction before use of the unit. This is where shelter building, fire making, use of 2-way radio, cell or satellite phone would come into use. If there were no tools available then use would be justified. It is a violation of Federal Law to misuse the device and is subject to a $250,000 fine.