Written by Dale Liebrecht
Saskatoon Search and Rescue recently purchased a small 6’ x 4’ trailer. We needed a unit that would serve three main purposes.
- Utilize it as a storage system that would increase the limited space available in our command trailer.
- Serve as a rapidly deployable communications asset that could house our new deep cycle batteries, Kenwood repeater system and Noco smart battery chargers.
- While being deployed on long SAR missions, we now have the ability to carry logistical supplies that can sustain us independent of outside agencies and support.
In addition to these three critical milestones, the unique size provides an important advantage. Almost any vehicle with a hitch can easily pull this unit. As a volunteer organization it’s sometimes challenging to have a member available with a large enough truck to pull our main command trailer. The smaller unit increases the probability that one of our members will be able to get our agile communications/logistics unit on scene immediately and provide advanced communications independent of the command trailer.
Several things had to happen in order to make this a reality.
- Cargo hooks were installed on the walls and floor to support safe equipment transport.
- The three deep cycle batteries provided were mounted near the front of the trailer. These were hooked up in a way to increase the overall amperage and still make 12 volts.
- The three Noco chargers were connected to each battery in the system, tripling the charge time and providing ongoing maintenance.
- A small hole was drilled into the back of the trailer and a weatherproof box was mounted to provide a way to access both the AC extension for the chargers and the optional antenna line available to our new external Willburt mast.
- A hitch lock was added to the system to prevent theft.
- A small trailer trolley was also allocated so that we could quickly move the trailer in difficult-to-manoeuvre areas.
- A whip antenna was mounted and hooked up to the repeater to provide full-time communications instantly. If greater height is needed, we can switch to the mast system antenna with our newly supplied antenna.
Our most recent activation to northern Saskatchewan provided for a successful result. When we arrived, it was reported that communications difficulty was an issue due to the challenging terrain in a provincial forest. We deployed our trailer on high ground and set up the mast, both quickly and easily. The height advantage and high power of the repeater system, along with the long lasting battery capacity, solved our problem.
Some lessons were learned from this deployment. The batteries were not secured sufficiently and moved around inside the trailer. We have since installed angle iron into the floor of the trailer to help prevent shifting.
Working with our fellow SAR groups and the RCMP was a pleasure. The recently introduced SARSAV radio systems all worked seamlessly together. Our NIF funded equipment has added a competence provincially in our ability as separate SAR chapters to rapidly deploy and communicate in difficult circumstances.