Monthly Report of The Science Officer 

Last month, It was a great honour to be appointed as the Science Officer for the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team. 

Enclosed is the report for last month's research and development work... 

 The 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. 

The 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.

With this in mind, the Science Officer set out to develop a miniature version for the aid of carrying stretchers. 

The 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. 

Unfourtunately, 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 stretcher downhill. 

It 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. 

To 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. 

The 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. 

The Helium was supplied by two newly merged companies, Sea Quest Underwater Instrumentation and Subsea Helium. (SQUISH). They wanted their company name on the balloon.

A compromise was therefore required. 

The first suggestion was that the balloon should be printed with:

 "SQUISH Your partners in Prophylactics"

Or, alternatively, "Rubex - Your partners in Prophylactics SQUISH" . 

Both of thsese were deemed too long, so the message was reduced to:

"Rubex Prophylactics SQUISH". 

For 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. 

A 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. 

Each 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 system). 

nATAlie was split up into sections and carried up with the stretcher.  

It 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 of struts. 

Unfortunately, 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. 

It must be said, at this point, there was a certain air of disappointment within the assembled party.  

However, 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".

The 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 Hydrogen instead. 

During 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.  

The 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. 

After 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. 

Most 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.  

The 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. 

A debriefing was carried out after a short explanation to armed police. It was decided that further research work was needed before further exercises could be carried
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