We are back in Chicago and we are taking a short break from working on Bo. We are now turning our attention to some of the other aspects of the preparation, such as securing the needed gear for the expedition. This is the first of several posts to highlight some of the equipment we are taking with us and why we chose it.
This entry is dedicated to our PLB. A PLB is a personel locator beacon. It is basically a distress beacon that can be activated anywhere on the planet and its monitored by major governments to launch search and rescue for endangered individuals. This is different from our Delorme InReach because while our Delorme has an emergency distress function, it contacts a 3rd party company and doesn’t have the homing beacon capabilities of a PLB.
As we have been thinking about safety and ensuring that we have the best possible outcome in the event of an emergency we have been thinking about having several layers of protection and support. At the very top / first level is a working cell phone, and the absolute last level/ layer is a PLB. This is a single use device. You arm it and activate it and its your final call for help. A PLB sends a signal to low orbiting satellites coded with your gps location and a unique subscriber ID that identifies you. In addition, it emits a homing beacon signal that can be detected by planes and ground search and rescue. When a PLB is activated the satellite picks up the transmission typically within 15 minutes or so, and starts the Search and Rescue process. The government agency first tries to contact the PLB owner on their registered contact information, and if they make contact and the subscriber says its a false alarm, then they end the process. But in the event of no contact or a confirmed contact and emergency, they begin the search and rescue process.
The benefit of a PLB is that it connects directly to a network of international government agencies which typically gives a higher level of response vs. contacting through a private organization. Also, the device has a significantly stronger transmitter and ability to ensure your distress call in received by the satellites.
We looked far and wide when selecting a PLB for our project. This is one of those things that you pray you never need but when you do need it, you want it to work flawlessly. The clear leader in the industry is ACR. They supply PLBs for the US Military and other government agencies. Their units have the strongest transmit power and the longest battery life. Two of the key aspects of a PLB. We chose the AquaLink View model because it floats :), and while we don’t anticipate being in water much, better safe than sorry.
We’re going to get our PLB registered with the US Government and run it through its self diagnostic before we pack it up in the van later tonight.