Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wanaka Search and Rescue exercise on river safety

Yesterday having crossed the mighty Makarora river by 4wd, we went up the Wilken valley to escape the wind and sand storms to carry out the following Wanaka Search and Rescue exercises:

River crossing in a group on foot and how to retreat, doing it solo, self rescue techniques, on foot with a patient in a stretcher, and 4 wheel drive strategies and safety in rivers.

Crossing the ever changing Makarora to the remote MtAlbert high country run - that's not a boat in the middle distance and the sandstorms can quickly strip the paint off of any sharp edges on car body work, should they be left parked in these exposed and silt laden braided river beds that are so unique to New Zealand...

My friends using a mutual support technique in the Wilken...

Self rescue practice using the "ferry gliding" technique, with the beautiful Wilken peaks in the background...

We had it all wrapped by 2.30 and we headed back to the farm house, which is over the river from Makarora village, for a barbi of venison and organic sausages. One of my friends Mike is the manager of the farm and he taught the 4wd stuff. Since he's had eight years of crossing this river more than twice daily I learnt an awful lot about vehicle techniques - especially as pertaining to modern diesel trucks [he demonstrated with water over the head lights at one point, rather freaking out his passengers who suddenly found themselves getting their lower trousers wet - there are no floor mats and the thus exposed holes in the floor mean the truck fills up quickly so it won't float!]. There were a lot of my other old friends present on the day too, so we had a lot of fun in the sun, and managed to keep out of the raging nor west winds that prevailed preceding today's bad weather!

Bun in hand Mike describes some aspect of the day's exercises to Colin...

This week coming up, weather permitting, we'll have an evening on helicopter safety.

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