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Emergency Device Helps Rescue Fishermen


Last Thursday, two Molokai fishermen were stranded after their 18-foot boat capsized. A Coast Guard crew was able to quickly locate them and hoist them to safety after the fishermen activated an emergency beacon on board their vessel called an EPIRB, which stands for emergency position-indicating radiobeacon.

The two men, who were not identified, launched their boat from Kaunakakai Harbor Thursday morning to go fishing. They reported that a wave hit their boat, overturning it. They were able to swim out from under the boat but weren’t able to call for help, according to the Coast Guard. One of the Molokai residents swam back under the boat to manually activate the emergency beacon, and the signal was received by the Coast Guard at 12:06 p.m. A Coast Guard air crew arrived at the scene about 1:30 p.m., spotted the capsized vessel and hoisted the two men from the water and returned them to shore.

If these men did not have an EPIRB, they might not be coming home tonight,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Shamica Titus, search and rescue planner out of Honolulu. “Having the beacon registered and our prompt notification by it gave us information to work from sooner than an overdue report and a place to start searching. This action can save hours, maybe days, in a search and make the difference between life and death at sea.”

The EPIRB transmits a distress signal if get into trouble, and can be used on boats, aircraft and handheld personal locator beacons. No matter where you are in the world, an EPIRB sends a signal to emergency responders through a satellite system. Registration is valid for two years, and owners need to revalidate bi-annually. Ensure all registration and emergency contact information is up to date, according to the Coast Guard. If you accidentally activated your beacon, call the Coast Guard at 855-406-USCG (8724) with your beacon’s hex ID ready to cancel the false alert.


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