False alarm frustrates rescue crew
AIR crewman John Kennedy is outraged after the AGL Action Rescue helicopter was sent on a two-hour wild goose chase yesterday.
The emergency rescue helicopter was called out to find an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) that was set off.
“We were initially given a position out towards Monduran, then down to Hervey Bay and Maryborough,” Mr Kennedy said.
As they homed in on the signal, they narrowed the search area to Bundaberg Port Road at Burnett Heads — but no emergency could be found.
“We were hovering over Port Road and suddenly the signal vanished so it must have been turned off,” Mr Kennedy said.
“We spent two hours looking for it, tying up the machine and using valuable resources.”
But Mr Kennedy said this was not a one-off occurrence — a week ago, emergency services were called to find an EPIRB that had been deliberately thrown into a dump at Mon Repos.
He said it was frustrating and dangerous to have emergency services called out to false alarms.
“If it’s an inadvertent activation, it means the EPIRB wasn’t secure in the first place,” he said.
Mr Kennedy said some EPIRBs, including the common 406 variety, had been phased out, but it’s vital to dispose of them safely.
“You can take them to Volunteer Marine Rescue, the police, or Battery World — just make sure you do it properly,” he said.