Evacuating the injured

Evacuating the injured

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Long-range reconnaissance forces use waterways for their purposes. But what happens if one of the team can no longer swim on their own and the folding boats are too far away?

Soldiers build a raft using ropes, long wooden planks and inflated bags.

Making use of anything at hand: Improvisation is needed when building a raft.

Bundeswehr/Christian Vierfuß

Should a soldier find themselves in an emergency situation, “then we build an improvised raft,” says Hauptfeldwebel (OR-7) Hannes Pohl. The slim, fair-haired Pohl is currently showing his colleagues from the long-range reconnaissance platoons out of Seedorf and Lebach how to do exactly that. There is no reason not to put theory into practice afterwards – in the Klietz training area, Klietzer Lake is barely fifty metres away. And conveniently, material has been prepared as well.

Planks and ropes have been provided, as have the waterproof CBRNchemical, biological, radiological, nuclear decontamination bags with which the long-range reconnaissance forces move their equipment across the water. “In an operation, finding suitable material would of course be harder,” Pohl acknowledges, lending a hand in lashing down a plank. “But the main goal here is to train sequences and get an idea of what to do in an emergency. In the woods, you would use logs instead of planks.”

Safely ferrying the injured

Several soldiers carry an improvised raft towards the water.

The improvised raft is launched out onto the water.

Bundeswehr/Christian Vierfuß

Six long-range reconnaissance soldiers listen carefully as Pohl explains step by step how to build an improvised raft. “It doesn't even have to be a wound. A broken leg or a busted knee are enough.” A raft is the most expedient way to then move an injured comrade across a water obstacle. That way, the soldier can be transported lying down and secured in place also when the team crosses bodies of water.

Pohl has the soldiers lay two long boards next to one another and place a filled decontamination bag on either end. Everything is securely lashed together. Then, two more boards are laid lengthwise on top. “It doesn't really matter what sort of lashing material you use,” Pohl says. “A climbing rope, paracord, it doesn’t really matter as long as the lashing is secure.” To finish the raft, two more boards are laid diagonally on top of the construction. That is where the swimmers can hold on later.

Not pretty, but practical

An improvised raft made of wooden planks and inflated bags lies dripping on the shore.

The raft weighs around 150 kilos – unloaded.

Bundeswehr/Christian Vierfuß

The result of the do-it-yourself handiwork looks a bit like an oversized wooden pallet. Not exactly pretty, but the thing serves its purpose. And it is quite heavy. “I’d say around 150 kilos in this form,” Pohl estimates and has the soldiers turn over their construction. That takes a bit of effort. Then, the raft is launched out onto the water.

One of the soldiers plays the part of the injured teammate and lies down on the boards – the easiest job today. One of his comrades “looks after” him while the others, ungainly in their dry suits, push the raft across the lake. And back again. That works out alright with fins; without fins, the going is tough. But in the end, everyone is satisfied. “The candidates need to have done it once,” Pohl says. “After that, they usually know how it works.”

by Markus Tiedke

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