Beacon points way for 'text book' rescue
8th December 2010
A feverish teenager stuck in a tramping hut in ranges south of
Taupo was in Hawke's Bay Hospital within 90 minutes of the alarm
being raised, after a "text book" helicopter rescue.
Hastings Girls' High School pupil Riley Smith, 18, was three
days into a four-day Duke of Edinburgh Award tramp in the Kaimanawa
Range when a teacher became concerned on Monday afternoon that she
was badly dehydrated and feverish.
Riley was treated in hospital with intravenous fluids and was
resting at home yesterday.
She credited the speedy rescue on "ticking all the boxes" and
carrying the latest model locator beacon. "Sometimes you don't feel
like doing all the paperwork, ticking all the boxes. But when you
need it, it works. We were exactly where we said we'd be, and had
Her sudden development of "the worst ever tonsillitis, in the
middle of nowhere" was disturbing for the rest of the tramping
party, but she slept through most of the drama.
"I was very drowsy. My throat was very sore and I couldn't get any
food down and hardly any water. [Anything I had eaten] I had
vomited. I just wanted to go home."
With four years' tramping experience, she knew she could be in
trouble at the end of the second day's 22-kilometre tramp, when her
throat started to hurt and she felt weak.
"By the third day I was very weak, tripping over. I had no energy.
I was trying to eat jellybeans for instant energy, but it was hard
to get them down."
That afternoon, on reaching Oamaru Hut, she was too ill to stand
and the locator beacon was set off to call for help.
Hastings Girls' High School principal Geraldine Travers said the
six girls and two teachers were carrying a school-owned beacon.
The modern safety equipment meant the school was comfortable
sending pupils into potentially dangerous environments, "because
help is immediately at hand".
Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter pilot Dean Herrick said the
fact that the girls were carrying the "very latest, incredibly
accurate" beacon made the rescue easy.
"They're a bit like insurance ... there's a cost involved but
it's a small price to pay if it turns out you need them."
Source: The Dominion Post