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Why don't more people know about Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) technology?
Well, if you have a marine background and are familiar with EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) then you know exactly what this product is and how it works.

EPIRBs are basically PLBs that are specific for the Marine Environment. They have been in use for over 20 years and have saved over 15,000 lives.

However, the EPIRB/PLB technology was not legal for use in land based application.

The technology is governed by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and was legalized for terrestrial use by backpackers, campers, hikers, etc. on July 1, 2003.

The reason it was not available is because there was not one unified overseeing body for land based rescues, using one type of Search and Rescue software. Each state has different organizations handling different types of rescues and no one agency acted as the point of contact for NOAA. In a marine environment, there is only one rescuing agency, the US Coast Guard. So coordinating rescues and responses has been a relatively easy task.

Now the FCC, NOAA and the US Air Force have gotten together to make the AFRCC (Air Force Rescue Coordination Center) the point of contact for land based rescues. The AFRCC, in turn has established relationships and points of contact in each state. Each state is upgrading their Search and Rescue software to make it compatible with that of the AFRCC's.

So, whenever a land based PLB is set off, the AFRCC will know exactly who to contact for a rescue response.