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Whanganui SAR staff take on chilly training days

Whanganui SAR staff take on chilly training days

This week the Whanganui Search and Rescue squad have been up on Mt Ruapehu battling away in freezing conditions to ensure they are best prepared to carry out a rescue in that environment.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the SAR team were on the Whakapapa side of the mountain carrying out training activities aimed at refreshing their skills and learning how to use new equipment.

These exercises were aimed at ensuring the teams are safe and work effectively if involved in a rescue operation in challenging conditions.

Constable Conrad Smith, National Park Police, organised the programme along with help from two highly skilled members of the Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation (RARO).

“I’m so grateful to these talented people for giving up their time to help pass on their knowledge and teach the SAR teams some valuable skills,” he says.

“It is really important our teams are as prepared as we can be for all conditions we might face in a search and rescue operation so exercises like this are invaluable.

“Our fingers and toes were hoping for fine blue skies and sun, but as you can see in the photos, those conditions weren't delivered.

“But despite a bit of complaining from the team about being cold, carrying out this operation in these circumstances was ideal, as it was a true test of our clothing and character in these conditions,” says Mr Smith.

During the exercise the teams learnt avalanche recognition factors and how to avoid getting caught in one.

They also sharpened their skills in using ice axes, crampons and snow shovels.

“The SAR teams learnt to use avalanche probes to locate a buried person using a transceiver, and also did a fair bit of digging to recover buried bodies (Note: no bodies were actually buried in the making of this exercise),” says Mr Smith.

“One fascinating learning was that you can still sweat even in minus several degrees.

“Overall this has been a fantastic experience which has taught our teams a huge array of new abilities which will be incredibly helpful in future search and rescue operations.

“I want to thank Zoe and Annika from RARO for sharing their incredible knowledge and skills, and also for helping our SAR teams to keep a sense of humour.”


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