AnswerID: 246672 Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 22:31
Member - Scott M (NSW)
Have a look at thread 30466 - Matt answered this question - however I know he won't mind me quoting him...
Member - MATT M (ACT) posted this followup
Well worth spending the extra money on a 406 EPIRB
because of the increased accuracy and the fact that it can identify the owner. Sending all this information (position, registration number, etc) takes a few satellite passes but the distress signal goes out very quickly. The SAR people love them because they are able to make a phone call to the numbers you nominate when you register
. This often knocks a false alarm on the head before expensive SAR assets are launched or allows them to get a more accurate picture of what they are dealng with (number of people, equipment/experience you have, medical conditions, etc).
I spent several years working for the US Coast Guard doing SAR and the policy was that they would 'launch' for a 406 EPIRB
almost immediately, whereas they would wait for 'correlating SAR information', distress flares, overdue reports, visual sightings, etc before getting too serious about a 121.5 hit. Although one group of rather dull thieves stole thousands of dollars of gear from several fishing vessels in Norfolk and then drove several hundred miles
to their home in Boston. They were very surprised when the cops knocked on their door for a chat. Hadn't realised that they had activated the EPIRB
when they pulled it of its bracket and that we tracked them the whole way!
Also the 406MHz frequency is a dedicated SAR frequency whereas 121.5 has some other uses. Most (marine at least) 406 EPIRBS also have a 121.5 MHz homing beacon
that on site SAR units will use to hone in on your position when on scene. One good piece of advice offered to me when using them in a 4WD is to keep them handy to the driver's position. Not much use to you when floating off down the river in your car or forming the centrepiece of a four wheel BBQ. Still, a $30,000 signal fire is probably a good start to any search and rescue.
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