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Search and Rescue

Zion National Park Rescue Craft
The head ranger of Zion National Park, Ray O'Niel, approached us. He had seen our Pack Cats in action, and thought that a small cataraft built to custom specifications could carry a Stokes Litter down the Zion Narrows on the Virgin River as a litter for injured People. Before this they used a conventional raft, and it kept getting hung up on the rocks, and it was heavy.

Note the handle placements. Four rescuers can walk beside the victim while he is strapped to the stokes litter. The Stokes is strapped onto cat's frame system. When the water gets too shallow to float, the rescuers simply carry the boat and the victim. Any amount of water can act as a lubricant on PVC. Therefore it doesn't take much water to be able to move this boat down stream. Even with a double bottom the whole boat and frame weigh only 50 lbs, so it is light enough for 4 people to transport on thier backs including the Stokes Litter. As with all catarafts, it is easy to straddle rocks in the river. In this way evacuation can happen with the least amount of stress to the victim.

3D Concept Drawing with the Stokes Litter on Top
End View of the Concept Drawing with the Stokes Litter on Top

Zion Rescue Boat in Use

Comments of Ray O'Niel Head ranger after the first use of "EDDY" the boat we made for them to rescue injured people from Zion National Park Narrows:


We had our first Narrows carryout of the season yesterday which means that we had our first use of the rescue boat that you built for us. Our first patient had the last name of Eddy which gave us a great name for the boat.

It worked extremely well. Our old rescue boat was an Avon 8 footer with a solid floor. The Eddy was very manueverable. We used to use seven people to move the Avon down the river. It was easier to move the Eddy with five people than the old Avon with seven.

The Eddy is also lighter, more stable, and kept the patient drier than the old Avon.

And, conditions were not ideal yesterday. The river is at record low levels, and the patient weighed around 200 pounds. The Eddy slid right over all of the exposed rocks.

So, thanks for building us an excellent rescue boat.

Here are the pictures
Loading Mr. Eddy on Eddy
Getting Eddy ready
Walking Eddy down through the rocks view from the front
Walking Eddy down through the rocks view from the side (note the belay strap from behind)
Belaying Eddy around a big rock in the middle of the stream

Ultimate Hot Pack Hypothermia Devices
This link will take you to a picture of a device that is used to heat IV fluids before they are given to a patient. Leonard Stensas of Ultimate Hot pack developed this technology. Ultimate hot pack also has hot packs that are used to warm core body temperature, and a hot pack that heats supplied oxygen. Leonard is an EMT in Lander Wyo. He knows cold and how to treat hypothermia even in trauma patients. Visit his web site at http://www.hotpack.net. Jack's Plastic Welding Inc makes the reuseable bladder that the chemicals are stored and activated in. Below is a description of the IV warmer

The Wilderness IV Warmer utilizes the Hot Pack technology to HEAT IV fluids to help reduce the effects of hypothermia and shock. Complete with insulated IV tubing cover, two chemical packs, and full instructions. PVC/Nylon Reinforced bladder is unconditionally guaranteed.

Raise the ambient temperature of a 1000 cc IV 40° F in 15 minutes. Great on the scene and in transit.

Search and Rescue Culebra
This Culebra was custom built for the Gresham Oregon Search and Rescue. Our customers looked at the Culebra handle configuration and came to the conclusion that this would be the best swift water rescue boat they could get only if it had some more handles in a different location. The custom lettering on the side of the boat is another option that we are capable of.

Riverboat Works Rescue Culebra Frame
The Culebra concept is a cataraft that does not need a frame. We introduced this system as an aid to river rescue operations. The frame enables either a simple rowing platform, or a rowing and motor platform. The frame is sturdy enough to allow a 25 hp motor to be connected to this small boat. We have used 25 hp motors on similar sized boats and up run the Colorado at 20,000 cfs through serious rapids We have used 25 hp motors on similar sized boats and up run the Colorado at 20,000 cfs through serious rapids.

Therefore we are reasonably confident in this design. The rescue frame concept will be tested through out 2007 at various locations in the USA by swift water rescue teams. The rescue culebra with rowing frame and with out a rowing frame has been tested in 2004 through 2006. Please email me if you would like more information about the rescue culebra. My email address is on the bottom of each page in this web site. Consider contacting Ron Ferris at River Boat Works if you are interested in the frame or the transome concept depicted here.

How Tube and Frame Designs Come Together
This is a drawing of the Rescue Culebra and the frame that we produced to make the system work. Ron Ferris faxed me basic drawings and dimensions for the fittings that are the main components of this frame. He also stated the bend radius, and the frame tube diameter. The rest was a matter of building all of the parts in 3 dimensions (we already had the boat design in 3d), and fitting it together on the computer. We designed the tie down locations and fit d rings and handles where we had been instructed from previous testing of earlier frame designs of the fourth generation. Therefore we had all of the information in place before production of the inflatable or the frame even started. When it all came together on the computer, we were able to take individual parts and design them for assembly. The boat and the frame did not meet each other until day 1 of the trade show. It was a perfect fit. This is a great example of complex product evolution to fit a nitch market. The first concept was the standard Culebra, the second concept was the standard Culebra outfitted with numerous handle placements. The third concept was the stretched version of the “Rescue Culebra”. The fourth concept was the stretch Rescue Culebra and first row frame concept. This final version is the stretch Rescue Culebra with a heavy duty motor frame and transom. This craft is out and about for extensive testing this summer with various swift water rescue organizations in the USA and Canada. If modifications are necessary, each individual component can be modified on the computer and then plugged back into the drawing to see how it fits into the concept. We are expecting this design to evolve to the needs of the rescue community. We will have more information at the end of the summer.

Outfitter Rescue Culebra
There are a number of unique features with this boat. First it is a cataraft, and that means that the learning curve for whitewater is short. This is because catarafts let the majority of the waters force through between the tubes. Secondly this is a frameless cataraft, and that means it is a blow and go unit. There is no rig time that is associated with catarafts. Third is the versatility of this craft. It can be a cargo, a passenger, or a rescue craft.

Looking at this picture one sees the relative positions of the parts. There is a fabric floor that goes more than half way up the middle. On the edge of the fabric floor there is an inflatable “foot thwart” for stability and to give paddlers a place to lock in their feet if necessary. (More foot thwarts can be added if necessary. The standard Outfitter culebra has 3.) There is a drop stitch floor with handles in the middle that is suspended above the water while the craft is in the whitewater position, (including low head dam rescue) and is easily lowered to provide a spot where a victim can self rescue, or it can be used as a dive platform. Note that there are d rings on the inside of the front and back that point toward the end. This allows the boat to be lowered easily to the water off of a bridge abutment. This craft can be customized to fit individual rescue needs. If you are interested in seeing more detail, the ability to zoom in out, and rotate this model, please go to this site, and read about edrawings, then email me and I will send you an edrawing file of the latest versions of this craft.

Look at the actual boat from the front toward the drop stitch floor while it is suspended.
Look at the top of the boat with the drop stitch floor up suspended.
Look at the drop stitch floor lowered for a rescue.
Look at rescue training in action photo 1, photo 2, photo 3.

Wilderness Aware Rescue Culebra
This craft was designed by the folks at Wilderness Aware in Buena Vista, Co. They are using it now on the Salt River as a rescue craft. It can be paddled, or rowed with a simple row frame. It is a stretched version of the rescue culebra 13 ft long , but the cockpit is in the middle of the tubes. This allows for rescue of swimmers on each end. There are some changes on this model over previous models. They include an extended mesh platform that has foam floats in the front and back. The mesh can be moved to an up position for the use as a larger cargo sling. The foot cups are replaced with 2 foam foot thwarts. Have a look at an actual rescue here.

Have a look at the Solid Works design drawing.

If you would like to see the 3D model of this. Download Solid Works Edrawings after reading this information. This is how the Wilderness Aware folks were able to verify design issues via email. Email me and I will send you this file to view with edrawings.

After a person pulls himself into the mesh platform, they can get out of the cold water by sitting on the cross tube like this.

See an actual rescue in a short video on YouTube.

Here is what Jack Gunkle of Wilderness Aware has to say about the boat.

I’m just settling back into the office after a month on the Salt. It’s not that easy to sit down in front of the computer all day after 4 five days!

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you again for working on this boat with us. The final product is pretty much exactly what I envisioned. From the moment I took it out of the bag it’s been getting much attention. Some of our guides and I have taken it out on the Salt and tested it. Everyone really likes it and I haven’t really found anything I would change.

The only modification I have done is to add locking carabiners to the cam straps that attach the adjustable floor. It just makes switching from the up to down position a little quicker. The dropped floor does create a little drag, but I don’t see any way around that and it’s very minor anyway.

Here are a couple pics I was able to get. There not the best quality, but I will have more soon. Our photographer down on the Salt has more and as soon as he forwards them to me I will send them your way.

We are having our oar frame built right now. As soon as that’s done I will get pictures of that too. My goal is to get good pictures of the entire process of scooping a swimmer out of the water.

Remember if you want to have a fantastic spring river adventure, we highly recommend the Salt River in Arizona with Wilderness Aware.

Have a look at the latest version of the Clear Creek Rescue Culebra

This may look the same as the wilderness aware culebra, but it uses a bungie cord placed inside a special foam covered pvc pipe that is wraped in fabric. This bungie cord keeps the mesh floor in the up position untill a swimmer pulls it down and enters the boat. It may seem like a small detail, but it is difficult to build, and Clear creek will have some good feed back for us at the end of this first ultra high water year.

To learn more about the kind of water that Clear Creek runs, see them on the web here.



Motorized Resuce Culebra
This motorized version of the Outfitter Rescue Culebra is designed to be a multi purpose rig for the King County Sheriff dept in the Seattle Wa. area. The cataraft style makes this craft more suitable for swift water rescue because much of the river’s energy can proceed unimpeded between the tubes. The boat is designed with a drop down floating drop stitch platform. This platform allows the victim to self rescue on to the platform, and then get out of the cold water. It is held up by 4 straps, and is deployed in seconds. The frame incorporates a transom, and a diamond plate floor in the back for a motor well. This motor well serves as a planning surface for the boat under power. There are forward facing D rings that allow the craft to be lowered to a rescue site.

Have a look at the drop down platform, the forward facing D rings, and how the strap and cross tube works to make a air frame system.

Have a look at the Solid Works Design drawing here.

If you would like to see the 3D model of this. Download Solid Works Edrawings after reading this information.

Edrawings are how the King County folks were able to verify design issues via email. You can zoom in to minute details, rotate the model in 3D, and remove and inspect the various components. Email me and I will send you this file to view with edrawings.


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