HomeNewsArticle Display

Personal beacon used in first rescue

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- A Cleveland man was rescued Nov. 14 through the help of a personal locator beacon and efforts of Air Force Rescue Coordination Center officials here.

The rescue marks the first such use of personal locator beacons in the contiguous United States.

Carl Skalak was in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York when he was snowed in at his campsite. Faced with frigid weather, 4-foot snow drifts and a frozen river that he had paddled in on, Skalak activated his beacon, alerting the rescue center of a distress. The center is the single federal agency for search and rescue in the 48 contiguous states.

Center officials received the distress call at 10:45 a.m. EST via the Search and Rescue Satellite Air Tracking System, which is operated by people at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

When the beacon alert came in, center officials notified the appropriate state emergency-rescue agency, said Lt. Col. Scott Morgan, the center's commander. In this case, the Herkimer County (N.Y.) Sheriff’s Department worked with the center and provided information to the U.S. Forest Service at Watson East Triangle.

"The center has many resources available to dispatch on a moment's notice to aid in search-and-rescue efforts," Morgan said. "The beacons help pinpoint the location of a person in distress."

Because of heavy snows, forest service rangers were unable to reach Skalak’s campsite and requested flight assistance. The rescue center scrambled the Fort Drum Air Ambulance Detachment, which launched a UH-1 Huey helicopter and medical team to assist in the search effort.

Upon arriving on scene, the rescue crew received a flashlight signal from Skalak who was then airlifted to Fort Drum for medical evaluation before being released.

"A thank you doesn’t even begin to cover my appreciation," Skalak said. "I am profoundly thankful for all those who were willing to put themselves in harm's way on my behalf. Many terrific people worked together to make this mission a success."

The team effort is what makes the beacon system a success, Morgan said.

“Working together, we have been able to establish a system that which allows for a quicker response by emergency personnel,” he said.

The beacon sends out digital-distress signals detected by NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites and Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites.

The geostationary satellites, the first to detect a beacon’s distress signal, hover in a fixed orbit above Earth and receive the signals, which contain registration information about the beacon and its owner. The polar satellites constantly circle the globe, enabling them to capture and accurately locate the alerts to within a few miles.

When individuals purchase the beacons, they are required to register them with NOAA. This registration, according to NOAA officials, includes critical information such as the owner's name, address, telephone number and the beacon's identification number. When a distress signal is received, the information is checked against the database to determine the identity of the missing person.

"The beacon is an effective tool only if people take the time to register it," Morgan said. "With this information, the center can validate an alert with one phone call to the emergency contact number on the registration."

The system worked like a gem, said NOAA officials.

"This particular rescue demonstrates how well our agencies work together when it comes to saving a life," said Ajay Mehta, of the NOAA. "The AFRCC, in particular, has really taken the lead for implementing (the beacons) across the nation and has worked with us and the states to ensure a robust search and rescue network was in place. This first rescue is a testament to our collective efforts.”

The lifesaving satellite-tracked distress alerts carried by aviators and mariners became available to outdoor adventurers July 1. Previously, these beacons were only available for personal use in Alaska under a test program to evaluate the usefulness in search and rescue. The success seen in Alaska paved the way for the technology to be used throughout the rest of the nation. (Courtesy of Air Force Special Operations Command News Service. NOAA Public Relations contributed to this story.)

Engage

Twitter
"This is a very historic day for our Nation & I don't take this moment lightly. Today is possible due to the persev… https://t.co/bAzAQJ6o8l
Twitter
RT @MilitaryHealth: Have you been diagnosed with #COVID19? The @DeptofDefense urges you to donate your convalescent blood plasma when you a…
Twitter
“This is one we’ve been working on for a while, and I’m glad we could get it across the finish line.” - @CMSAF18 https://t.co/xtVu5BQuWW
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: @usairforce @GenDaveGoldfein Working together & accelerating change, I'm confident that our @usairforce can continue to b…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: @usairforce @GenDaveGoldfein You can expect my leadership will be framed by the same four tenants I've used throughout my…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: @usairforce @GenDaveGoldfein To do so, we must no longer defer, but must accelerate the needed change & tough choices we'…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: @usairforce @GenDaveGoldfein Building on @GenDaveGoldfein's 3 focus areas, I'm committed to addressing today's challenges…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: @usairforce @GenDaveGoldfein It's due to their trials & tribulations in #BreakingBarriers that I can address you today as…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: @usairforce @GenDaveGoldfein Those like the #TuskegeeAirmen, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., Chappie James, African-American lead…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: @usairforce @GenDaveGoldfein This is a very historic day for our Nation & I don't take this moment lightly. Today is poss…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: @usairforce I'm proud to follow extraordinary leaders. Chiefs of Staffs from Spaatz to @GenDaveGoldfein, who have lead ou…
Twitter
RT @AFThunderbirds: Update: flyover is at 11:15 AM!
Twitter
RT @AFThunderbirds: Headed to salute @GenDaveGoldfein and welcome the 22nd CSAF: Gen. Charles Q. Brown at @Andrews_JBA! Look up at 1105 AM…
Twitter
Join us for the Air Force Chief of Staff transition ceremony LIVE from @Andrews_JBA at 9:30AM EDT.… https://t.co/fnGXOh7m0k
Twitter
US & Canadian members worked together to repair a fuel pump on a Canadian C-17A Globemaster III at Ali Al Salem Air… https://t.co/e52k3ogDdx
Twitter
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: The Airmen of today's @usairforce are the most incredible, patriotic, & disciplined professionals I've ever had the pl…
Twitter
Pentagon staff clap-out @GenDaveGoldfein as he exited the Pentagon on his final day as Air Force Chief of Staff.… https://t.co/AgqLS8pUgD
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: After 37 years of steadfast service to the @USAirForce and #Airmen, no one has earned a standing ovation more than @GenD
Twitter
Guardsmen from the @HiAirGuard and @PANationalGuard located three missing mariners on Pikelot Island during a searc… https://t.co/RFRmCo5koQ
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,263,154
Follow Us