Airport West, Victoria, Australia and Booth 52046 at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Salt Lake City, Utah — The new personal locator beacon (PLB) company, TracMe, announced today that the company will have a loan pool of Search-and-Rescue (SAR) Field Kits available to agencies for use and return to train them in the new radio-signal personal locator beacon technology. This program, along with nationwide SAR notification, is underway before TracMe PLBs are introduced to U.S. consumers this summer via outdoor retailers. SAR agency representatives can register for the free use, shipping and return shipping of the small suitcase-sized kits by logging onto TracMe’s website, www.TracMe.com/SAR/FieldKitReg . Registration will include feedback and a security deposit for the equipment which is valued at more than USD $795.00. TracMe is loaning the SAR Field Kits as a public service for a 3-week training period to enable many agencies to participate.
â€œOur mission in developing TracMe and sharing the training technology is to increase the safety of SAR staff and volunteers as they conduct a rescue as well as the time and resources they spend in their preparation and rescue operations,â€ said Joe Rainczuk, president of TracMe. â€œWe are embarking on this registration process to introduce a non-satellite-based technology to the people who will respond to emergency calls. We also want their expert feedback about its use.â€
Notifying nearly 4,000 SAR professionals, agencies and volunteer groups
Before the TracMe PLBs are launched at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market August 7 to 12 in Salt Lake City, Utah, TracMe has methodically notified SAR agencies, teams and volunteer groups throughout the United States.
That outreach has included an in-depth approach using the SAR Field Kits. Throughout the summer, the TracMe team has conducted a number of workshops at SAR industry conferences and state agency meetings in addition to notifying agencies about the new PLB and free training materials online. Tilo Schmidt, TracMe’s Chief Technical Officer, conducted a workshop at the National Association of Search and Rescue professionals (NASAR) annual conference in Charlotte, N.C., May 31 to introduce the SAR Field Kit there with a number radio direction-finding techniques.
The TracMe team will also demonstrate the beacon at the open-air demo August 7 and 8 at Pineview Reservoir near Ogden, Utah with the assistance of a member of the Weber County search and rescue team.
â€œWe will not only present how to use a TracMe but how to train professional and volunteer rescue teams using the available Field Testing Kits,â€ explains Schmidt. Schmidt also demonstrated how TracMe PLBs are compatible with the Ch1 radio signal in the nearly 100 million trail radios now commonly used throughout the United States along with land and air-based search methods.
TracMe North America’s General Manager Brent Turner and Gloucester, Mass.-based Briggs Longbothum, a national radio direction-finding expert, recently conducted workshops at the Mountain Rescue Association’s annual meeting June 24 in Utah in June and for the California State Office of Emergency Services quarterly meeting in July 18. They will be presenting workshops throughout 2007 and 2008. Workshops can be requested by contacting Turner via email or phone: Brent@TracMe.com or 206.790.1987.
TracMe’s search and rescue workshop and training materials are available free of charge by logging onto www.TracMe.com/SARMethods.htm toward the bottom of the web page.
Field Kit Loan Program creates demand for purchase
â€œOne of the unexpected results of the SAR Field Kit loan program has been the demand for purchase of these kits,â€
explained Schmidt. â€œPersonal locator beacons are our primary business focus, but due to the overwhelming demand, we are supporting the SAR community by stocking and supplying the Field Kits. The SAR Field kit is a professional out-of-the box solution to a SAR organization’s direction-finding needs when locating a TracMe beacon.â€
TracMe SAR Field Kits can be purchased by contacting North America General Manager Brent Turner at 206.790.1987 or Brent@TracMe.com.
The TracMe PLB is unique in its use of the Ch1 frequency of trail radios commonly used throughout the U.S and Canada. The beacon is more affordable since it does not use a satellite signal when activated. The search-and-rescue community has been concerned about the potential increase in the use of satellite-based personal locator beacons by the general public due to the potential for accidental notification and the significant cost borne to the agencies responding to accidental calls. The TracMe PLB is designed for one-time use to discourage accidental activation or purposeful abuse. This also ensures that during its 10-year useable life, the TracMe is not taken outdoors with a partially discharged battery and is therefore always ready when needed after self-testing.
A mission to develop affordable and accessible SAR technology; easy for children to use
TracMe was developed in Australia by two paraglider pilots, Joe Rainczuk, a businessman from Melbourne, and Tilo Schmidt, an electronics engineer, developer and co-founder of TracMe, in 2001. They witnessed several tragic events with lost children, lost snowboarders (within voice range of a resort), and a downed paraglider pilot whose whereabouts where misdirected by a saboteur during a search and rescue effort. The tragic death of that paraglider pilot after a fruitless 7-day search in the Australian Outback prompted Rainczuk and Schmidt to develop the original TracMe PLB concept.
â€œWe are keen on saving expensive search and rescue resources and to make beacon technology accessible to a wider range of outdoor enthusiasts. The current range of satellite-based PLBs are not appropriate for a large portion of the outdoor market because of their price, size, and weight. And most important, there are serious consequences associated with accidental activation (in some cases, a large fine or even jail). Consequently most people use no PLB at all,â€ said Schmidt.
The TracMe System enables a significant number of outdoor enthusiasts to afford and easily use a simple and effective solution to facilitate fast, safe and efficient rescues when they need it most. TracMe’s design is so simple a child can use it and avoid a not-uncommon situation of becoming lost during a group activity with days out in the elements risking hypothermia. Retailers can offer group rentals of TracMe PLBs to further accessible affordable PLBs and increase safety.
â€œAfter witnessing tragic situations where this technology could have saved a life, we have seen demonstrated benefits of PLBs in rescue efforts recently on Mt. Hood and are convinced that TracMe can offer a win/win situation for all,â€ Schmidt said.
About TracMe Personal Locator Beacons Pty Ltd
TracMe Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) is an international organization based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and Seattle, Washington, USA dedicated to applying technological advances to finding lost adventurers faster. TracMe’s first product uses a simple and well-known technology which uses the same Channel 1 signal as nearly 100 million trail radios currently used in the United States. It is affordable, light and easy to use. TracMe’s Channel 1 FRS/GMRS radio signal works with land and airplane search techniques. TracMe evolved from an idea in 1992 to create a small, simple, affordable and effective radio locator beacon that could be used by anyone while engaged in outdoor activities, including situations where the conventional satellite-based PLBs are not appropriate for general use.
To activate a TracMe, you simply pull the top and bottom of the beacon apart. When activated, the TracMe PLB sends the voice message â€œHelpâ€¦Emergencyâ€ continuously every 15 seconds for up to 7 days. TracMe PLBs are designed for one-time use but not abuse. They are the most affordable, longest lasting and lightest weight beacon available in a non-satellite beacon category: only 1.6 ounces, 3.2-inches long at $150 MSRP, they are smaller than an energy bar. When activated for legitimate search and rescue, an expended TracMe PLB will be replaced free of charge. Designed with an enclosed built-in lithium battery to last 10 years in backcountry and waterway adventure conditions, TracMe PLBs are the 11th essential for responsible outdoor adventurers anywhere. For more information, visit www.TracMe.com.