ACR ARTEX

The Science Of Survival


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Whats the difference between a Personal Locator Beacons and Avalanche Beacons?

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Learn more about Personal Locator Beacons

We often get asked the question; what’s the difference between an Avalanche Beacon and an ACR 406 MHz Personal Locator Beacon?

The answer essentially comes down to the fact that each beacon has 2 different jobs.  The easiest way to think about this is while both beacons are designed to aid in Search and Rescue, an avalanche beacon does the Searching, while a Personal Locator Beacon brings the Rescue.

Avalanche beacons are specifically designed to locate other 457 kHz signals buried under the snow.  An avalanche beacons is constantly transmitting a low powered pulsed signal during your skiing/snowboarding/snowmobiling trip and should you get caught in an avalanche, anyone in your party that is safe will switch their beacon from the transmitting mode to the receiving mode which allows use as a radio direction finder.   The searchers in your party use their beacons to find your location and dig you out of the snow.

Surviving the avalanche and getting out alive is the first major hurdle to overcome, but quickly your attention must turn to assessing injuries.  According to the US National Library of Medicine, the most frequent injuries are to your extremities, chest and/or spine.  Getting medical attention is imperative, but can also be extremely difficult in the backcountry depending upon your location and the extent of the injuries.  That is why a 406 MHz beacon is the perfect complimentary beacon to an avalanche beacon, it calls in the cavalry.

Avalanche sign and mountains at the backgroundAn ACR 406 MHz Personal Locator Beacon, like the ResQLink,  utilizes the Cospas-Sarsat Search and Rescue Satellite System and provides the closest Search and Rescue Agency to your vicinity with your registration data, emergency contacts and location information.  Search and Rescue (SAR) forces use the GPS position (or coordinates based on triangulation if GPS data is not available) from the beacon along with the information you provide when you properly register your beacon to immediately set out on the rescue mission.  There is no subscription or activation fees with a Personal Locator Beacon, the only thing required is mandatory registration, which is what tells SAR forces who activated the beacon.

On average, 150 people lose there lives to avalanches each year.  While predicting and avoiding avalanches are becoming more and more reliable, anyone in these areas is always still at risk and should be well-trained in avalanche safety.  For more information and safety tips on Avalanche please check out National Ski Patrol, or find an avalanche safety course in your area.

Sources:
National Geographics
US National Library of Medicine

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406Link.com ACR Electronic’s Advanced Satellite Testing System

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ACR/ARTEX is proud to bring you 406Link.com, the first and only advanced satellite testing system used to receive self test notifications (SMS/Email) from your ACR Personal Locator Beacon, EPIRB, or Artex 406 MHz ELT. This optional subscription service is designed to enhance the functionality of your ACR or ARTEX 406 MHz beacon and provides you and your loved ones with the peace of mind of receiving your satellite test message directly on your cell phone or email.

Once you subscribe, a successful self-test will trigger an email and SMS text message notification to you and/or your loved ones. By choosing the Plus plan, you will also be able to have a customized message sent to your list of contacts. In addition, when conducting a GPS self-test, your actual location will appear on a map and be sent to your contacts along with your message. You and your loved ones will breathe easier knowing that your beacon is working properly should you ever need to use it in an emergency.

Try our Free Trial and use the service free of charge for two days (no credit card or automatic renewal required). You will quickly realize the amazing value and ease of use of 406Link.


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The Anatomy of a Rescue

Cospas Sarsat - International satellite system

Learn how a rescue works.

1. Distressed mariner/outdoor adventurer/pilot activates beacon (EPIRB, PLB, ELT).

2. Beacon transmits a 406 MHz emergency message containing your Unique Identifier Number (UIN) to the LEOSAR (polar orbiting) and GEOSAR* (geostationary) satellite systems.

3. The satellites relay the 406 MHz emergency message to a ground station called the Local User Terminal (LUT). The LUT calculates the location of the signal by measuring the Doppler shift caused by the relative movement between the satellite and the beacon and forwards the location to the Mission Control Center (MCC).

4. The MCC continues to receive information from additional satellite passes and further refines the beacon position (2.3 nm search radius). An alert message is generated that is combined with the registration information from the database and is forwarded to the appropriate Rescue Coordination Center (RCC).

5. The RCC makes contact with the persons listed in the database to verify the existence of an emergency and gathers additional information about the beacon users. The RCC will dispatch the closest, capable Search and Rescue (SAR) forces.

6. Local SAR forces launch a rescue mission and use the 121.5 MHz homing signal to pinpoint the beacon.

* On average, worldwide, this notification (steps 2 through 5) take up to one hour for non-GPS beacons. For self-locating beacons that provide GPS position data in their first transmissions, the search radius is reduced to .05 nm (100 m) and the notification can take as little as three minutes. (Data provided by Cospas-Sarsat.)

About the Cospas-Sarsat Search and Rescue System

Orbiting high overhead every minute of the day is a worldwide network of polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites. Together with Russia’s Cospas spacecraft, they make up the high-tech international Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System known as Cospas-Sarsat.

Cospas-Sarsat has been credited with nearly 30,000 rescues worldwide. The system relies on signals received on the 406 MHz frequency to pinpoint position and speed rescuers to the scene of an emergency on land or at sea.

In fact, the more reliable, digital 406 MHz frequency has become the de facto internationally recognized distress frequency. Using the 406 MHz frequency, modern signaling devices can quickly beam GPS LAT/LON coordinates to orbiting satellites. This frequency also allows a position fix through Doppler shift to acquire a location even when GPS can’t.

As of February 1, 2009, satellite processing of distress signals from the older 121.5 and 243 MHz emergency beacons was terminated worldwide due to unreliability and false alarms. When a 406 MHz beacon signal is received, search and rescue personnel can retrieve information from a registration database.

This includes the beacon owner’s contact information, emergency contact information and details regarding the specific trip plan and any medical conditions of the owner or members in the party. Having this information allows the Coast Guard, or other rescue personnel, to respond appropriately. NOAA, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, is strongly advising all mariners, aviators and individuals using 121.5/243 MHz emergency beacons to make the switch to 406 MHz in order to take full advantage of the Sarsat system.

Cospas-Sarsat is maintained and operated by governments all over the world, thus there is no subscription fee required for owning a 406 MHz EPIRB, ELT or Personal Locator Beacon.

Tags: Cospas Sarsat, 406 MHz Rescue, Search and Rescue Process, Coast Guard Rescue, How a rescue works, Anatomy of a rescue, EPIRB, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, Personal Locator Beacon, PLB, Emergency Locator Transmitter, ELT