Monthly Report of The Science
month, It was a great honour to be appointed as the Science Officer for the
Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team.
is the report for last month's research and development work...
evacuation of a casualty by stretcher is by far the hardest and most physically
demanding task that the Mountain Rescue Team has to execute. The Science Officer
has devoted much time and effort this month into researching into ways to reduce
the amount of effort required.
concept of the Helium balloon for load carrying is not a new one. Since the last
war, scientists and engineers have hypothesised about its use for carrying heavy
loads over vast distances at comparatively little expense.
this in mind, the Science Officer set out to develop a miniature version for the
aid of carrying stretchers.
ideal would be for the stretcher to be completed lifted off the ground by a
Helium balloon. The Rescue Team could then merely pull the stretcher with
casualty on board, down the mountain slopes to the awaiting ambulance.
initial calculations revealed that the amount of Helium required to lift 85Kg
was somewhat on the side of impracticallity. However, it was deamed possible
that a smaller balloon coud be secured to the stretcher to reduce the weight experienced by the volunteers carrying the
was decided that the balloon could consist of a series of 1.5M long rubber tubes
filled with Helium tied together to form one large "sausage". The
sausage could then be fixed to the stretcher by four rigid alloy struts.
reduce expenses, the Science Officer called on the aid of those in industry to
provide resources for the development of this revolutionary advance in mountain
rescue techniques. After much communications by telephone and email, suppliers
of the various components were found.
rubber tubes were provided by the Rubex Prophylactic Corporation of Grimsby, on
the condition that the company slogan, "Rubex - Your partners in
Prophylactics" was printed on the side of the balloon.
Helium was supplied by two newly merged companies, Sea Quest Underwater
Instrumentation and Subsea Helium. (SQUISH). They wanted their company name on
compromise was therefore required.
first suggestion was that the balloon should be printed with:
Your partners in Prophylactics"
alternatively, "Rubex - Your partners in Prophylactics SQUISH" .
of thsese were deemed too long, so the message was reduced to:
safety purposes, it was decided that a real casualty would not be used to test
the new stretcher attachement. Instead, Cadavotex Ltd kindly agreed to loan one
of their "Autopsy Training Aids" (a lifelike dummy known as nATAlie)
for the duration of the experiment.
special full-day exercise was arranged to test the new balloon. The exercise
consisted of carrying down a nATAlie from Hollow Stones on the stretcher with
the aid of the RUBEX SQUISH balloon.
member of the team was given two fully inflated rubber tubes, which were
strapped carefully to his or her rucksack. (Although ungainly, the tubes
actually made the rucksacks feel lighter, which was deemed a fine feature of the
was split up into sections and carried up with the stretcher.
must be said, at this point, there was a certain air excitement within the
assembled party as the tubes were carefully strapped together, and fitted to the
stretcher with the aid of four trekking poles, specially adapted for the purpose
due to some subtle miscalculations on the part of the Science Officer, there
were not enough tubes filled with Helium to provide a suitable amount of lift.
must be said, at this point, there was a certain air of disappointment within
the assembled party.
the Science Officer was not found wanting. As part of the aid package, SQUISH
had provided a large cylinder of compressed Hydrogen gas. Hydrogen gas is less
dense than Helium, and therefore provides a greater "lifting ability".
Science Officer had brought the Hydrogen gas cylinder to the scene as a
precaution, and arranged for the tubes of Helium to be deflated and filled with
the deflation process, Richard Webmaster made a remarkably realistic impression
of Kate Bush singing "Wuthering Heights". Unfortunately, Old Oscar the
Dog got too close to one of the tubes as it was being deflated, and got quite a
shock when he started barking like a poodle. It took some oxygen and half a Mars
bar to calm him down.
tubes were refilled with Hydrogen, and had just been strapped to the stretcher,
when Pete the Pipe decided it was time for a crafty puff of tobacco.
Unfortunately, this was in close proximity to the stretcher.
this, several records were broken in short succession. The first was for the
loudest explosion ever to have been made in the vicinity of Hollow Stones. The
second was for the fastest descent of a stretcher from Hollow Stones. Not even a
Sea King Helicopter could have matched the downward velocity.
of nATAlie was recovered from the smoking crater near the Hut at Brackenclose.
Unfortunately, her left leg is still missing. It is expected that this will be
found at some later date by an unsuspecting group of ramblers from Kent, and
will result in a call out.
stretcher consists of steel used in the fabrication of Centurion battletanks,
and is designed to withstand the impact of a 20mm shell. (It is not
intended to be lightweight). As a result, the stretcher survived the high
velocity impact with only superficial damage.
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