In January, we had the opportunity to participate in a “Patient Packaging and Transport” training exercise with a local group of search and rescue volunteers. Check it out:
There isn't a whole lot of aerial footage in this video, as this event was really a chance for us to get to know the good folks at Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue – and for them to get to know us – ahead future exercises.
Still, RQCX-3 “Raven” got a couple of opportunities to spread her wings, which I hope came as adequate compensation for the indignity of being dragged around upside down on a sled – and having one of her propellers snapped in half while thus situated.
Far and away the most compelling piece of aerial video from that day came as a complete surprise. At one point during the exercise, the team had to set up an improvised camp which included a pair of “lean to”-type shelters, using tarps.
One used an ordinary blue, plastic tarp like you can find at any hardware store. The other was obviously something more specialized, specifically intended for this application.
We launched Raven over the camp equipped with a FLIR thermal imaging camera and discovered that we could see right through the plastic tarp like some sort of cool, Tom Clancy-esque, see-through-walls technology.
However, the other tarp was completely opaque to the FLIR. This unexpected outcome is definitely relevant for actual search and rescue missions, since the missing subject could be sheltering under such a tarp or something else that obscures their thermal signature.
Watching the video, you no doubt noticed that the weather was beautiful that day: January 19, 2013, for the record. In case you don't live in Oregon, this isn't exactly normal weather on Mt. Hood that time of year.
It was actually pretty peculiar: when we left town that morning, it was overcast and foggy – the same as it was when came home that evening. Had we stayed home, we would have thought it was another gray winter day in Oregon.
However, there was some kind of temperature inversion going on, so we were treated to unseasonably mild temperatures and blue skies up on the mountain that day – a good argument for getting out of the house no matter what you see through your window.
Finally, we want to thank Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue for having us along. It was an amazing experience which only served to heighten my already considerable respect for these folks, who volunteer their time to participate in search and rescue.
This is a great group of people and even though we are uber-noobs – who got in the way a whole lot more than we helped, I'm sure – they made us feel right at home. Thanks, guys! I hope that we'll be back out with you real soon!