What do you do after your tree stand harness has saved you?
Smart Hunters Harness Up and Are Signal Ready
By: Craig Dougherty
Smart hunters know that it takes more than a safety harness to save their lives in a fall. A 4-point harness may keep you from hitting the ground in a hurry but it can suspend you in mid-air and that’s where the trouble begins. Unless you can get back in your stand or somehow lower yourself to safety, suspension trauma can set in and you can pass out and die in less than an hour. A reliable signaling device is a must for safety conscious hunters.
Suspension trauma is caused by blood pooling in the lower extremities and failing to reach the torso and brain. Persons suspended in a safety harness are extremely vulnerable to this condition and in need of rapid rescue. Some harness systems incorporate a suspension trauma relief strap which allows hanging hunters to rig a strap which they can stand on to relieve pressure and avoid the trauma associated with being suspend for extended periods of time. This helps avoid suspension trauma but hanging in a tree is no way to spend the night.
No matter how you look at it, time is of the essence to anyone hanging from a safety harness. That’s why hunters need to carry an emergency signaling device on their person at all times. A whistle can help you alert nearby hunters to a problem but there range is seriously limited. An air-horn is better but a pain to tote.
Most hunters rely on cell phones for emergency signaling but we all know they have their limitations. For starters, you need a signal; when it comes to hunters and cell phones, rule of thumb is – “the better the signal the poorer the hunting.” You never seem to have a good signal in great hunting areas. The other rule is—“your cell phone goes dead just when you need it most.” And of course, you need to be able to get to the phone, get it out of your pocket without dropping it, and have the clarity of mind to dial it in an emergency situation. You also need to know exactly where you are to direct rescue personnel to your location. When it comes to life and death situations you need more certainty than a cell phone provides.
The ultimate emergency signaling device is a personal locator beacon (PLB). PLB’s are industrial strength signaling devices that signal for help at the push of a button (and one button is about all a suspended hunter can manage). No dialing, no talking, just hit a button and wait for the rescue team to show up. The PLB beams out a signal which will be picked up by emergency personnel who are trained to vector in on the signal and administer emergency medical treatment (suspension trauma victims require special handling). PLB’s incorporate time tested and proven signaling technologies which have saved thousands of lives over the years.
In order to be effective, PLB’s must be carried on your person. They are no use stashed in a backpack hanging on tree limb or strapped to your stand. Fastening it to your harness, belt, or some other easy to access (when hanging) place. It will do you no good at all if it is stashed in a jacket pocket you have no way of reaching when suspended.
PLB’s should only be used in life threatening situations. Authorities definitely frown on sending out search and rescue squads only to find out that the signaler had run out of energy bars or arrows. Stiff fines accompany false alarms. But, if your hung in a harness with no way out, the PLB is your ticket to ride, ride home that is in the comfort of your pickup.
By: ACR Guest Blogger from the Hunting Division; Craig Dougherty