by John Robertson
Paul set up another good exercise for us on Wednesday evening. It used all three trucks with full crews as well as the Station radio comms. It was also well designed to cater simultaneously for the training needs of inductees, those doing the FM1 course and those who already have FM1 – not an easy task.
Each truck went to four different locations at the extremities of the Mountain maintaining radio (sometimes mobile phone) contact with John F at the Station while doing so. The locations were grouped to the South, East and West of the Mountain respectively. On the way crews reported back any hazards they observed – low overhanging electric lines, steep narrow access, heavy fuel load and the like. At the end of the road its name was spelled back to the Station using the phonetic alphabet. They also reported Kestrel and GPS readings from the trucks which have those devices. Where possible drivers rotated so that each got a turn at the wheel. It gave excellent navigation and driving practice on many of the Mountain’s trickier roads.
For example TM52 went to the bottom end of Kaiser, Mystery and Staghorn and to the top end of Landman Court. The bottom of Staghorn and the top of Landman are separated only by 50 metres or so of bush but it is a good bit further round by road. Renee Soper, a member of the Brigade in prior years who has recovered from injury and made a very welcome return to our ranks, was the scribe and reporter in 52. She did a first class job. 52 performed admirably in every way save one; power to its radios went on and off, mostly off, in an apparently random manner. Clearly there is a glitch that has not yet been sorted. That apart, it is evident that channel 16 is not ideal for across-Mountain communications with our Station. A repeater channel is the go.
On TM51, Barry, a new member who is an experienced heavy truck driver showed just how good he is. Crew members ribbed Karen, probably most unfairly, about her driving. It is highly commendable that Karen, being Group Officer, comes on our training evenings. On TM41 Kim and Rory did a characteristically competent job. Another top line evening from Training Officer Paul. The trucks as well as the crews say thank you!