An Arrowtown man who credits an emergency locator beacon for saving his life is urging all outdoor-enthusiasts to carry one.
Experienced expeditioner Lindsay Bellamy was rescued by Southern Lakes Helicopters almost a fortnight ago from Howe Creek near Jackson Bay on the West Coast.
Bellamy was half-way through a four-day solo hike into Fiordland from Makarora when he started getting severe chest pains at 10.30pm.
The 52-year-old builder didn’t take any chances and triggered his emergency locator beacon for medical help.
Four hours later, after the Rescue Coordination Centre received his signal and precise GPS coordinates, a Te Anau-based chopper with night vision equipment landed right beside his tent.
“I bought the beacon four years ago and when the time comes to use it, you really hope it works.
“Then when the helicopter finally arrived – you can’t describe the feeling of hearing that sound,” Bellamy says.
A paramedic checked Bellamy over at the scene and he was flown straight to Southland Hospital – where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and remained for two days.
Still recovering, Bellamy praises the rescue crew and has donated money to Fiordland St John for the region’s air rescue service.
“Having that emergency locator beacon most definitely saved my life,” he adds.
“I believe anyone who goes in the mountains, whether they’re alone or with a group, you have got to have a beacon.”
Southern Lakes Helicopters operations manager Lloyd Matheson, who was a crewman for Bellamy’s rescue, says this is the busiest time of year for outdoor expeditions and not enough people carry beacons.
“If Lindsay didn’t have one I suspect he may have died. The quicker we can get to people, the easier it is for the medical profession to deal with them. If he’d got serious pneumonia he would have had a longer time in hospital or he could have succumbed.
“Beacons are extremely lightweight and easy to obtain – you can hire them from any Mobil service station anywhere around the South Island,” Matheson adds.
“If you’re going into the wilderness, it’s a must. It’s a great insurance policy.”