Four of us from Wellington went over to join in the Wairarapa SAREX in the Aorangi forest area.

The air force were helping out with the Iroquois for deployment. I took some video of the helicopters in 3D.

It was a good SAREX and very enjoyable.  Great weather and none of the usual hardship you expect with SAR things 🙂

We were going as a dog team with Sue’s dog.  But when we heard how many pig dogs there were likely to be in the area Sue decided it was best not to take Matai into field with that kind of risk just for an exercise.

We were initially tasked to process a hut site and were deployed by Iroquois.  It was pretty clear the site was going to be well contaminated as we arrived.  We could see a bunch of dogs and there was a large party of day walkers approaching the hut too.  There were 7 dogs there and a couple of hunters there that looked none to pleased to see us arriving.

Bizarrely one of the group of day walkers was a guy Andy that I know from sailing.  He was there with a group of friends staying for the weekend and doing a loop walk in the area.

By the time we got to the hut there was nothing but contamination everywhere and no indication at all that the missing party had been there, or at least no indication remaining now.

We were then tasked to head up to a lodge in the northwestern area.  We had been given a small map of the area for the exercise, and this tasking was right off the map!  So it was pretty obvious they were intentionally tasking us away from the missing party.  Since they still thought we had a dog, they didn’t want us finding the missing party too quickly and ruining the search for everybody else 🙂

We lost comms and hadn’t managed to check in for a while, so when we arrived at the lodge we set up the HF radio.  At about that time, the group of day walkers turn up.  They were staying at the same lodge.  One of them looked a little funny to me but she was acting normal, so I tried not to stare 🙂   But then one of them asks if we have any adrenaline.  It wasn’t so normal after all.  Her face was swelling up quite badly from a wasp sting, and getting worse.  We did have some adrenaline in the first aid kit, but it’s not something we use without a bloody good reason.

It turned out that the girl that was stung was an emergency medicine nurse at Wellington hospital.  One of her friends there was a doctor.  So she could probably have used the adrenaline sensibly, but the situation wasn’t quite that bad yet.

We radioed up and asked for an ambulance to come to the nearby road end, but that seemed like it was going to take some time, so they radioed back at told us the Iroquois would come and pick her up.  She really didn’t seem to believe us when we said that.

Anyway, the heli came and Matt did a great job helping her with the winch process.  Her face was so swollen should couldn’t see any more.  She was choppered to a field where they met with the rescue helicopter and she was treated onsite for about an hour before they flew her back to Wellington hospital.  Her colleagues couldn’t even recognise her when she arrived apparently.  It would have been quite an experience for her, but unfortunately should couldn’t see any of it.  Winching blind might have been fun too…

The rest of the SAREX was pretty slow in comparison.  We were redeployed by Iroquois and we had a very pleasant night sleeping on one of the hilltops.  In the morning we located one of the missing parties (played by Rowena).

So all in all a pretty successful SAREX.  We helped somebody with a genuine situation and found one of the missing parties.  And we got quite a lot of playtime in the Iroquois compared to the other teams I think.