Beacon false alarm costs $30,000

A HELICOPTER rescue crew spent four and a half hours searching for an emergency that never was today.

The RACQ CQ Rescue chopper wasted nearly $30,000 responding to an activated EPIRB distress signal.

The source of the signal, a discarded beacon, was eventually discovered on a beach at Connor Island, part of the Guardfish Cluster, 45 nautical miles south east of Mackay.

Rescue service chief executive Phil Dowler said it appeared the beacon had been deliberately activated within the previous 36 hours.

"This type of task reminds all of us to ensure we have the correct type of EPIRB, to dispose of our old ones properly and bear in mind the helicopter rescue service is an expensive operation required to help those in genuine need.

"While we are on a wild goose chase, someone may be in urgent need of aero-medical care. We can't be in two places at once."

He said all activated beacons were treated as genuine.



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