A couple got the shock of their lives when they received a phone call to say a rescue helicopter had been dispatched to look for them – while they were in bed.
A couple got the shock of their lives when they received a phone call to say a rescue helicopter had been dispatched to look for them – while they were in bed.

Search for couple takes a sleepy and relaxing twist

A BUSHLAND Beach couple got the shock of their lives when they received a phone call to say a rescue helicopter had been dispatched to look for them - while they were still in bed.

Maree Togni was watching the news when she got a phone call about 9.20am Tuesday to say there was full scale search under way to locate her and her husband.

But they were safely at home when the alarm was triggered by the manual EPIRB device in their boat, which was believed to have been short circuited by water getting in.

Maree said the device was supposed to be waterproof, and initially she thought the boat may have been missing.

Bushland Beach couple Maree and Graeme Togni were at home when they got a call from air rescue to say the epirb in their boat was going off. Picture: Evan Morgan
Bushland Beach couple Maree and Graeme Togni were at home when they got a call from air rescue to say the epirb in their boat was going off. Picture: Evan Morgan

"I thought, the boat's outside, unless somebody has stolen it," she said. "I bolted downstairs and … it was still there.

"My husband climbed into the back and the EPIRB was there, mounted where it needed to be.

"The lady on the phone said an aircraft had picked up an unspecified beacon alert, so apparently an aircraft pinged it first and that triggered the helicopter."

It took some time before the couple were able to get into the supposedly waterproof unit to disconnect the battery, which had corroded.

Maree said she hoped the pair's unusual 'rescue' serves as a reminder for others to maintain and store their devices out of the rain.

"If I was bunkering down for a cyclone, the EPIRB is the last thing I'd think about," she said.

"I'd (be more worried) whether the boat itself was secure.

"It's absolutely brilliant to know all that happened and gives you great faith that the system works, but I felt a bit guilty because all those resources were deployed for a false alarm."

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said they were aware of the incident but confirmed they would not seek reimbursement of costs because the activation was inadvertent.

An AMSA spokeswoman said the beacon was correctly registered, allowing the owners to be contacted.

"The quick response to EPIRB alerts is a high priority for AMSA in ensuring the safety of human life," she said.

"Keeping your beacon dry is an important storage consideration wherever you live or store your beacon."

Inadvertent activations occur for a variety of reasons including damage, incorrect disposal, incorrect storage or incorrect mounting or installation.

While the spokeswoman did not confirm the cost of deploying a rescue helicopter, it was labelled "significant" and "in the thousands of dollars".

Originally published as 'Rescued' pair found safely in bed


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