Airport West, Victoria, Australia; and Seattle, Wash. USA â€” The new personal locator beacon (PLB) company, TracMe Beacons P/L, announced today that Brent Turner, a seasoned outdoor industry executive, will become the general manager for TracMe USA and lead its product launch operations in the U.S. and Canada effective immediately.
â€œAfter an industry-wide search, we're pleased to find a person with global sales and an international brand launch track record to launch a new PLB technology in North America,â€ said Joe Rainczuk, chief executive officer of TracMe's Australian headquarters north of Melbourne.
Turner has held key positions at Northwave, K2 and Dana Designs and has nearly 20 years of industry experience in managerial and sales positions in cycling, outdoor and snow sports. Most recently he was CEO of Northwave North American, the N.A. subsidiary of the Italian snowboard boot and bike shoe brand. He was previously Vice President and General Manager for Snowboard and Outdoor Divisions with K2. Turner has an MBA from the University of Washington/Seattle and holds three U.S. patents for snowboard bindings.
Turner will base TracMe's U.S. operations in Seattle, Wash. One of Turner's key initiatives is to build a strong network of independent sales representatives to work with TracMe throughout North America.
The TracMe PLB team initially visited the 2006 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City, Utah as part of an Australian outdoor industry contingent. The company currently has its PLBs in active field tests on both coasts with SAR industry experts. TracMe is also launching a Field Demonstration Kit loan program (each valued at $500, loaned and shipped free of charge) to search and rescue agencies across the United States to introduce the SAR community to TracMe's new beacon technology. Tilo Schmidt, TracMe's chief technical officer, is scheduled to present a search and rescue workshop at the upcoming National Association of Search and Rescue (NASAR) annual conference May 31 in Charlotte, N.C.
â€œOne of TracMe's most significant benefits in search and rescue is its signal compatibility with the FRS/GMRS Ch1 signal of more than 100 million trail radios commonly used throughout the United States,â€ says Turner. â€œWe have an excellent opportunity to save search and rescue resources and minimize the pressure on SAR teams, while bolstering the map and compass education of the millions of Americans who continue to explore their backcountry with this new 11th essential.â€
Unique use of a familiar technology
The TracMe PLB is unique in its use of the UHF FRS/GMRS Ch1 frequency of trail radios commonly used throughout the U.S and Canada. The FRS/GMRS Ch1 has already been nominated as an emergency channel by many user groups. This means that little, if any special equipment is required to perform a basic location of an activated TracMe. The beacon is more affordable (offered at $150 USD MSRP) since it does not use a satellite signal when activated. The search-and-rescue community has been concerned about the potential increase in satellite-based (EPIRB) beacons by the general public and their potential for accidental notification and the significant cost borne to the agencies responding to accidental calls. The TracMe PLB is designed for one-time use to discourage accidental activation or purposeful abuse. This also ensures that during its 10-year useable life, the TracMe is not taken outdoors with a partially discharged battery and is therefore always ready when needed after performing the Self-Test function before each trip.
Any search and rescue team possessing commonly used trail radios set to the UHF FRS/GMRS Ch1 frequency can detect the activated â€œHelpâ€¦..Emergencyâ€ voice message emitted by an activated TracMe beacon and use simple direction-finding procedures â€“ so there is no special training required. Additional techniques and a free equipment loan program are also available on www.TracMe.com. Each beacon also comes with a dashboard card placed in a car to immediately indicate at a trailhead the identity of the user. Additional notification directions and features are included with each TracMe beacon.
A mission to develop affordable and accessible SAR technology
The TracMe PLB was developed in Australia by two paraglider pilots, Joe Rainczuk, a businessman from Melbourne, and Tilo Schmidt, an electronics engineer, developer and co-founder of TracMe Beacons P/L, in 2001. They witnessed several tragic events with lost children, lost snowboarders (within voice range of a resort), and a downed paraglider pilot whose whereabouts where misdirected by a saboteur during a search-and-rescue effort. The tragic death of that paraglider pilot after a fruitless 7-day search in the Australian Outback prompted Rainczuk and Schmidt to develop the original TracMe PLB concept.
About TracMe Personal Locator Beacons Pty Ltd
The TracMe PLB concept evolved from an idea in 1992 to create a small, simple, affordable and effective radio locator beacon that could be used by anyone while engaged in outdoor activities, including situations where the conventional satellite-based P PLBs are not appropriate. Many people would not consider the use of any of the currently available PLBs or EPIRBs as appropriate for their activities, and they therefore use no beacon at all. The TracMe PLB was designed to fill this rather large void and provide improved safety for outdoor adventurers. (Note: TracMe PLBs are not designed to be used as a replacement for an EPIRB satellite beacon where these are mandatory or more appropriate.)TracMe PLBs have been tested in Australia since 2005 and are now launching in 2007 throughout Australia, the United States and in Canada. The company's mission is to enable all participants of outdoor activities to have access to this small and lightweight (1.6oz; 3.2 in x1.8 in x0.9 in) affordable and effective personal locator technology to improve their security and safety as well as the safety of the search and rescue community.
When activated, the TracMe unit sends the voice message â€œHelpâ€¦Emergencyâ€ continuously every 15 seconds for up to 7 days. This message can be easily understood and interpreted as an emergency call by anyone listening on a trail radio set to Ch1. TracMe PLBs are designed for one-time use but not abuse. For legitimate search and rescue, an expended TracMe PLB will be replaced free of charge. Designed with an enclosed built-in lithium battery to last 10 years in backcountry and waterway adventure conditions, TracMe PLBs are the 11th Essential for responsible outdoor adventurers anywhere. TracMe beacons will be available in retail outlets early Summer 2007. For more information, visit www.TracMe.com.