How would you design a vehicle for rescue in flooding and snow?

Arclight

SAR guy
I volunteer with SAR in San Bernardino, CA. We have a variety of terrain, and we will often do things like hitch a ride on a snow cat supplied by the local ski resort if we want to save time getting into a remote, snow-covered area. That's a specialized resource that we wouldn't buy for ourselves. Your local team will typically have trucks like Suburbans, Tahoes and stock Chevy pickups.

For what you're describing, I think you want a used heavy logging truck, or a surplus MIL vehicle like a 2.5 or 5 ton truck with the appropriate fording kit. We never take our SAR vehicles swimming - modern trucks aren't friendly to this sort of thing. You want old, simple and lacking in electronics. And if it's over tire height, it's time to request a boat.

Arclight
 

Haf-E

Expedition Leader
I think a mil surplus 2.5 or 5 ton truck is probably the best fit for this application. Might add some of the surplus MRAP tires for more rubber and height. Parts are easy to get and service is available nearly anywhere.
 

Bryophyte

New member
Thanks, Arclight. That was a powerful read, and a good reminder of the solemnity of such work. I even found a companyand an agency doing exactly what you all are proposing
The Deuce is clearly a good tool for high water rescue, and extra valuable because people actually have them. Coincidentally, "deuce and a half" is listed by Google as a related search to "high water rescue truck"...

Approaching the story Arclight posted from a design perspective, I see the cab (loud, unconditioned, uncomfortable), cooling system, and tires as opportunities for improvement; and unload/offload time as both a vulnerability and inefficiency issue. Imagine a purpose built vehicle: Whether by dump, fork, or other means, it would be better to be able to quickly load and unload by the pallet; he injured his back, lost time, and was shot at during unloading time. It would be extra cool if a boom fork, that allowed him to quickly unload while staying in the cab, could also be used to clear cars and debris from the road. Not quite as badass as what I'm imagining, but one of those trucks built for hauling pallets of retaining wall blocks could be an excellent base vehicle. For the cab, it could easily benefit from improvements (ex: raked, bulletproof windshield; insulation; suspension seats, etc.). Finally, I'm ready for someone to come up with a new and better way to cool engines. All we have now is fancier versions of "ancient" technology, like if we were using the best possible machines to build wooden wheels...

calicamper, thanks for your grounded and sensible approach to this.

I initially pictured using just a pickup truck with a wading kit, but I have become convinced that our local rescue infrastructure needs to include at least one of the deuce-based rescue trucks. Ultimately, my plan now is to go in three phases based on my most frequent need and lowest cost/complexity (i.e. the greatest value to me):
1. Pickup truck - snorkel, raised exhaust, extended breathers, winches f/r, racks & tie points; I'll use this every day of the year.
2. Tractor - 4x4, set up for high water, front bucket with lifting forks, 3 pt backhoe / trailer hitch; I'll use this at least weekly.
3. Deuce and a half with dump bed - high water kit, brush bars, possible cab upgrades, extra fuel, removable plow; I'll use this perhaps monthly, so will look to go in on it with some colleagues and neighbors, possibly to store it at one of the unmanned County Fire garages in exchange for mowing the yard.

All three will have upgraded lighting, communications, and tires; GPS; and roadside emergency kits. A small team will work together, using all three in partnership (ex: tractor will un/load pallets of supplies on the deuce, the pickup will be a fast response "Swiss Army knife" with additional supplies, etc.)

I welcome any further input or creative ideas. Thanks again, everybody!
 
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I didn't see the importance of a diesel engine listed, but that would be the first thing on my list.

If you can't afford a later Unimog, like a U1800, I'd look for an F350 with a diesel and go with at least 36" tires and a few inches of (but not much more) lift. And don't screw with lower priced winches or off-brands; you will need to look at the higher-end stuff or commercial grade units, none of which are cheap.

You need a sh**load of 4x4 experience and emergency operations training to do some of what you are hinting at, although I'm not 100% clear as to your situation or where you are so I'm just throwing that out. (and this is coming from someone who did Fire/Rescue work for 9 years.)
 

tgreening

Expedition Leader
I'm trying to recall seeing anyone doing any extensive rescue work in 3+ feet of water with a vehicle. I'm of the opinion that things with wheels have their place, and things that float have theirs.
 

toylandcruiser

Expedition Leader
I volunteer with SAR in San Bernardino, CA. We have a variety of terrain, and we will often do things like hitch a ride on a snow cat supplied by the local ski resort if we want to save time getting into a remote, snow-covered area. That's a specialized resource that we wouldn't buy for ourselves. Your local team will typically have trucks like Suburbans, Tahoes and stock Chevy pickups.

For what you're describing, I think you want a used heavy logging truck, or a surplus MIL vehicle like a 2.5 or 5 ton truck with the appropriate fording kit. We never take our SAR vehicles swimming - modern trucks aren't friendly to this sort of thing. You want old, simple and lacking in electronics. And if it's over tire height, it's time to request a boat.

Arclight
Modern trucks have no issue with fording.
 

Wilbah

Adventurer
Can I ask a possibly stupid question....you said the water is standing and not a raging rapid. So the water help could be accomplished by an aluminum boat in the back of a pick up no? I'm just thinking a full size 4x4 and a jon boat with an outboard would accomplish most of what you need. Even ferrying suplies are you likely to need a 5000 lb capacity? And if so how often? If it's the once every few years maybe a decent trailer to haul behind the truck would work. Dunno just thinking the deuce and a half or unimog ideas my be a bit overkill and may not work within the budget. But I could be wrong....just thought I would throw it out there.
 

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HighDesertDeuce

New member
I am interested in designing and preparing a vehicle for use as a rescue / aide vehicle in flooded urban areas, and would like your thoughts and suggestions. Personal & rescue equipment suggestions are also welcome.

Situation Examples:
http://www.graysharbortalk.com/2015/01/22/flood-history-grays-harbor/
http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/06/floods.html

Vehicle Concept:
  • Multi-purpose vehicle to use for property maintenance during dry season
  • Fording capability & durability to travel & sit in water up to 3 ft/1 m deep
  • Water will mostly be still, but currents may need to be crossed, so lateral grip/stability is a consideration
  • Should be able to move people and stuff, and a small boat or amphibious craft for forays into deeper water
  • Must handle snow & ice, too.
  • Trail toy ability a plus!

Testing / Training Sites:
But don't need to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJSzWxWN1bg

So, what do you think? What vehicle, tire size, etc. would you choose?

Thanks!

I have an M35A2 and suggest ditching the diesel engine (135 hp) as it has a narrow power band that is in the 1800-2300 rpm without the gearing needed for slow going anyway. I installed a 496 Vortec engine (same MPG, quieter, way more flexible) with a 6 speed ZF trans and that alone brought the Deuce alive and made it a great off road vehicle. The air intake is 6' above grade so high water is not an issue. Beyond that its your call. Ciao
 

85_Ranger4x4

Well-known member
Can I ask a possibly stupid question....you said the water is standing and not a raging rapid. So the water help could be accomplished by an aluminum boat in the back of a pick up no? I'm just thinking a full size 4x4 and a jon boat with an outboard would accomplish most of what you need. Even ferrying suplies are you likely to need a 5000 lb capacity? And if so how often? If it's the once every few years maybe a decent trailer to haul behind the truck would work. Dunno just thinking the deuce and a half or unimog ideas my be a bit overkill and may not work within the budget. But I could be wrong....just thought I would throw it out there.
Weight on compromised roads should be a concern too. A tractor was mentioned earlier.


Bridges aside, roads can slough off and dump whatever is driving on them in the ditch too. If the water is a couple feet deep going into a 3'+ deep road ditch could get really deep fast.

With no experiance I guess I would rather float than trust a flooded roadbed/possibly washed out bridges especially with heavy equipment. Our emergancy management center has two dive boats, during the flooding this spring they were rescuing people and whatever else needed done to help in neighboring counties.
 
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