Personal Locator Beacon Credited With First Lower-48 Rescue

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A Cleveland man who got snowed in while camping in the Adirondack Mountains in New York last week was rescued by a UH-1 Huey helicopter thanks to the help of his personal locator beacon (PLB). The rescue marks the first such use of a PLB in the contiguous United States. About 10 a.m. on Nov. 14, Carl Skalak, 55, was faced with frigid weather, four-foot snow drifts and a frozen river that he had paddled in on. He activated his beacon, and after being routed through various agencies, the helicopter was dispatched to his coordinates with a medical team. "I am profoundly thankful for all those who were willing to put themselves in harm's way on my behalf," said Skalak. "Many terrific people worked together to make this mission a success." The system worked just as it was supposed to, said NOAA officials. Prior to July, PLBs had only been available for use in Alaska under a test program to evaluate their 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.