18 Mar 2011
Carrying an emergency position indicating radio beacon - or EPIRB - on your vessel could one day save your life, as two Victor Harbor men recently discovered.
On 7 March 2011, a 4.5 metre, centre console Brooker aluminium vessel carrying two people upturned near Victor Harbor.
Their EPIRB was activated automatically when the vessel capsized and the two men were air lifted to safety within hours.They were taken to Victor Harbor Hospital, fortunately with no injuries.
Many South Australian lives have been saved by the EPIRB – a compact, buoyant, self-contained radio transmitter designed especially for marine use. When activated, the EPIRB emits a continuous distinctive radio distress signal for a minimum of 48 hours. The signal is detected by satellite and relayed to a rescue coordination centre, which will start a search and rescue operation by local authorities.
Trent Rusby, General Manager, Transport Safety Regulation said an EPIRB on your vessel drastically improves your chances of survival during an incident."
“Once it is activated, your location is immediately transmitted via satellite and your length of time in the water, which is vital to survival, can be significantly reduced.
"In many cases, rescue teams are able to respond to an EPIRB alert within hours."
Recreational vessels are required to carry an emergency beacon if they are more than five nautical miles from shore in the Gulf of St Vincent or Spencer Gulf, or three nautical miles from shore in other State waters, except Lakes Alexandrina or Albert.
Commercial vessels are required to carry an emergency beacon if they are operating more than three nautical miles from a coast.
An EPIRB should only be activated in situations where human life is in grave and imminent danger, and only after all other means of indicating distress, such as flares and radio, have been attempted.
If you accidentally activate your EPIRB, switch it off immediately and notify the Australian Rescue Coordination Centre as soon as possible on 1800 641 792 to make sure they do not start a search and rescue operation.