PLB false alerts in Berthoud Pass

Over the past two weeks, the Alpine Rescue Team has been notified of three PLB activations in the Berthoud Pass (Colorado) area between Winter Park and the Jones Pass area.
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Over the past two weeks, the Alpine Rescue Team has been notified of three PLB activations in the Berthoud Pass (Colorado) area between Winter Park and the Jones Pass area. These PLB false alarms have occurred on three different dates, December 14, 23, and 24, and all involve the same PLB.

If anyone has recently started to use – or knows someone who has – a ACR PLB-300 Microfix (RescueFix) and visits the Berthoud Pass area, please contact the Alpine Rescue Team. You can send me a private message or call me directly. Right now there are no violations, penalties, laws broken, etc., however, we would like to talk with you so you can understand how your PLB works and does not work. If you don't want to talk, at least keep your PLB turned off until you are in an actual life-threatening emergency.

Each detection of the PLB's signal starts a cascade of rescuers beginning with the US Air Force, the Colorado State Search and Rescue Coordinator, the local sheriff, and finally the local mountain rescue team, which in these cases has been Alpine Rescue Team. Each false alarm requires significant effort and time by many people. On Christmas Eve, rescuers from three different mountain rescue teams spent the afternoon trying to directional find the intermittent signal.

You might be wondering why a PLB is so hard to pinpoint, especially if you have read any advertising or promotional materials about these devices. This unit is not registered so no simple phone call to the owner can be made to verify the alert. Also, this unit is being turned on and off and moved between activations, so the search area cannot be well defined giving a search area up to 10+ miles in radius. When used properly these new digital PLBs can usually be identified and located in minutes.

Again, if you have been in the Berthoud Pass area on these three dates and have an ACR PLB or know someone who has, please contact us via private message, or call Dale Atkins directly at 303.579.7292. There are no legal issues or laws broken; we very much would like to talk with you. As always the services of Alpine Rescue Team are free.

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