No false alarm

JJ Richards driver Mark Hobbs spotted two EPIRBs at Wilson Beach which averted RACQ-CQ RESCUE false alarms.
JJ Richards driver Mark Hobbs spotted two EPIRBs at Wilson Beach which averted RACQ-CQ RESCUE false alarms.

THREE RACQ-CQ Rescue false alarms have been avoided in the past week thanks to Whitsunday residents.

These actions have saved the rescue helicopter from being called to false alarms – and in doing so has saved the service money.

JJ Richards waste truck driver Mark Hobbs discovered two Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) poking out of the waste in the Wilson Beach waste skip.

He removed the two EPIRBs from the skip and handed them in to staff at the Council's Kelsey Creek Landfill, avoiding them being incorrectly disposed of in the landfill site.

“It took me five minutes,” Mr Hobbs said.

“It's just common sense.”

Meanwhile, Acting Mayor Cr Rogin Taylor said another Whitsunday resident had informed staff that he had an EPIRB in his waste as a result of the sign displayed at the Cannonvale Transfer Station.

Since April 17 this year, there have been four false EPIRB alarms triggered by the beacons being compacted at tips.

These have sent the rescue helicopter on wild goose chases, costing time and money.

About 13 hours have been wasted since April, translating to a cost of more than $75,000 for RACQ.

RACQ business development manager Leonie Hansen said the rescue organisation was pleased the message on EPIRBs was getting through.

“It's great news for RACQ-CQ Rescue that people are becoming aware of the consequences of incorrectly discarded EPIRBs,” she said.

“While it would have been better if the EPIRBs weren't discarded in this manner in the first place, it's reassuring to see the JJ Richards contractor and the Whitsunday resident were on the ball.”

Between Monday, July 26 until yesterday, the RACQ-CQ Rescue conducted nine missions.

Ms Hansen said these important missions may not have been possible if the service had been activated to attend all three false alarms.

Newer digital 406 MHz EPIRBs have replaced the old 121.5 MHz types, but the older models can activate if they are disposed of carelessly, diverting rescue crews from real emergencies.

Cr Taylor reminded residents to be careful disposing of EPIRBs.

“If you are getting rid of an old EPIRB, please either take it to the SES, Auto Pro or Battery World, or tell the staff at the waste site,” he said.

“Please don't put it in your wheelie bin or skip – you could be putting someone's life at risk.”

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