After a drive lasting more than two hours, I end up on the quai of Tuvesvik in Orust municipality in Sweden. In the docks a group of firemen from Norway and the owner of the company Hode Over Vann, Lars Fossum, are standing and waiting. We are heading out to the idyllic island of Käringön, together with the company Safe at Sea with Linda Ahl in the lead who has arranged a couple of demonstration days for the rescue vessel, RescueRunner, for Norwegian firemen. At this place, the Swedish Sea Rescue Society, often arranges courses in how to use and operate the RescueRunner.
Rescue vessel, is the correct name for the RescueRunner, even though it looks like and acts like a water scooter. However, the user possibilities, the robustness and the versatility of the RescueRunner makes it so much more than that.
RescueRunner was designed and is produced by the Swedish company Safe at Sea, which was established in 2006. They are based in Gothenburg, have 10 employees and deliver around 30-35 vessels every year. They have retailers in countries all over the world, where among these we have Hode Over Vann as their retailer in Norway.
A Rescue Tool
When we reach the island, Käringön, the afternoon and evening are used for the introduction of the vessels capacity and technical specifications. The instructor, Anders Bagge, informs us that the vessel has a special hull built from polyethylene plastic, the same plastic that is found in sea kayaks and in Pioneer boats that are also used by many firemen. The benefit of using polyethylene is that it withholds almost anything. The RescueRunner can therefore be driven and beached upon reefs or be hit towards coastal rocks and stones. If the hull is damaged, it is easy to repair, something that was demonstrated as well. If the damage is major, one can change the hull module. By the way, the hull has six waterproof bulkheads.
The RescueRunner has a Yamaha 4 stroke engine with 110 cc. The dry weight is 375 kg and the fuel tank contains up to 70 liters. The operating range is 100 nautical miles. The top speed is 38 knots. Lars underlines that this is not a vessel for speed and fun at sea. It´s purpose is to be a work tool for rescue squads. A tool used to rescue people, search, pull skimmers / booms and for other types of towing. It is more than suitable for use in rapid waters in rivers.
Day two arrives and we have some more practical exercises on the agenda. We start with a little driving through an obstacle course, and we quickly find that the vessel is extremely responsive once the technique is learned.
After we have got used to operating, it is time for practicing how to rescue people.
Lars throws himself into the water. He needs to be rescued. It looked extremely easy when the exercise was demonstrated and we quickly find that it is not that difficult either. I use my left hand, catching Lars´ hand and accelerate with the RescueRunner while I slightly turn to the right. With this maneuver Lars is quickly placed onboard the RescueRunner.
Afterwards, the instructor, Anders, shows that a rescue mission on land is carried out just as easily. He accelerates until the durable hull stands halfway up on the rocks in the sea. One by one we all make the same exercise without any issues.
The rest of the day is used to explore the vessels capacities. We do exercises on boat towing, simulating deployment of oil booms, operating in shallow waters and between cliffs and rocks. The vessel passes all of our tests with flying colors and I am very impressed of how versatile, durable and easily operated it is.
At the moment there are no fire departments in Norway that have yet invested in RescueRunner, but some of them have expressed that they are considering or wants to purchase one. Safe at Sea and Hode Over Vann have delivered several vessels to Redningsselskapet (Norwegian Sea Rescue) and to the Norweigan Red Cross. I am pretty sure that this would be a great tool for us within the fire department, especially during IUA-operations and rescue missions both on the sea, lakes and rivers. Linda from Safe at Sea informs us that they have started to develop a fire pump to be installed on the vessel, which will make the usage possibilities even broader.
For more information about the RescueRunner please contact Lars Fossum from Hode Over Vann by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was written by Simen Short and published in Brannmannen (the Fire Fighter) the Norwegian magazine for fire fighters.