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False activations of life-saving emergency beacons are an increasing problem, and a costly time waster, for responders making up about 80% of all activations in NSW.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority data revealed 139 inadvertent emergency position-indicating radio beacons were triggered across the state last year – a nearly 20% increase on the 2015 figures.

Mishandling, incorrect storage or disposal as well as hoax or other unintentional activations are defined by AMSA as false detections.

When activated in Australia an EPIRB sends a distress signal to a series of satellites, which calculate the estimated coordinates within a 5km radius of the device to AMSA’s control centre in Canberra.

The Westpac Rescue Life Saver Helicopter is sometimes deployed as part of AMSA’s emergency response when a beacon is activated.

There are a variety of emergency beacons available for public purchase.

Crew chief, Roger Fry said the chopper responds to an estimated two activations a month.

Last month, the rescue helicopter joined an air and ground search for an EPIRB from Ballina and north along the coast.

The beacon was later tracked to the Ocean Shores residential area where it was located and de-activated, according to the chopper’s mission report.

This is one of hundreds of false activations that occur each year nationwide.

For more information, visit AMSA’s website.

Originally Published by The Northern Star, continue reading here.

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