POLICE are angry after thousands of dollars and many man hours were wasted investigating a deliberate false alarm involving an emergency tracking beacon.
Sergeant Gavin Slade of Portland police said the emergency position-indicating radio beacon — or EPIRB — was set off on Sunday about 5.10pm. When an EPIRB is set off, it sends a signal via satellite to the Canberra Rescue Co-ordination Centre, which then contacts the water police, who in turn contact Portland police.
Sergeant Slade said that on Sunday the EPIRB was activated in the Cobboboonee State Forest. Police officers and the south-west emergency helicopter were scrambled to the location and tracked the beacon to Blackwoods Road in the Heathmere area.
The EPIRB was eventually found in a fire dam.
“There was no evidence of any person being in distress,” Sergeant Slade said.
“It appears that the EPIRB had been deliberately activated, causing a false alarm.”
While EPIRBs are typically registered to an owner, this one was unregistered and police are seeking any information that may lead to the identification of the owner.
“Police and emergency services are disappointed with this type of behaviour,” Sergeant Slade said.
“It’s wasting valuable emergency resources.”
Emergency services personnel were engaged for about an hour due to the false alarm.
“Obviously we treat an activated EPIRB as a priority,” he said, adding that the beacons are usually used on boats but also occasionally by bushwalkers.
“The cost of that false alarm incident is multiple thousands of dollars when you take into account the helicopter and emergency services personnel. And while emergency services are tied up with that incident, there are less resources available to direct to other incidents.”