Rats.co.nzSpecialist First Response Team to the Canterbury Region


Rats be Dammed!


On weekend 5 and 6 April 2008 the team headed again to the Meridian Energy dams in the Waitaki Valley.

This is the third trip the team has done and we are no where near exhausting the training opportunities that exist on, under and through these impressive structures.

The team of 16 RATS headed down on Friday evening and stayed in Kurow ready for an early start at Aviemore Dam on Saturday morning. We started with some basic abseiling on the penstocks and spillway. Geoff also managed to do a little bit of maintenance for Meridian which was much appreciated and was good to feel like we were repaying some of the hospitality they continue to extend to us. The scale of the Dam again provided a valuable “training opportunity” when Mita headed off down with a 50M line clipped to her harness (the wind making it impossible to test rope lengths) to find the distance was more like 60M- no problems- just run a 100M down and do a changeover.

The cold and sleet got the better of us eventually and we headed inside the dam for 2 scenarios in the afternoon. One involved the use of Janelle’s dog Cairo who was able to save considerable search time by indicating up a steep ladder- the patient was three stories up but the draft meant Cairo got the scent at the bottom and while the stairway was too steep for even Cairo the search team was able to get verbal contact with the “patient” and start the rescue process. The anchors for this scenario proved a bit of a challenge but one the system was set up was pretty straight forward with a vertical lower down the stairway using the Evac stretcher. The other scenario allowed Mark Allen (Meridian Energy) to use his dog Koda in the powerhouse to locate another patient about 10 M down. The team were able to use a very large gantry crane to attach pulleys for the raising system.

On Sunday morning we headed (after a yummy cooked breakfast) in beautiful sunshine to Waitaki Dam. We rigged a horizontal highline across one of the outlets and most of the team had a “ride”. The system used the tripod at one end to get height and a shored vehicle roof rack at the other.

After a very successful weekend of training a tired little group headed back to CHCH with the intention of not leaving it another 3 years before we make use of this awesome training site.

Thanks again to Mark Allen and Meridian Energy for their hospitality and support.

For more images view slide show Dams Trip 2008   Setting up the lines across the 50m gap

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Updated Wednesday, 22 December 2010