John Maczko, Hovercraft Pilot, Canada
Founder and Director of OPS (Armadillo Hovercraft Rescue & Response Support Unit)
“To go where from others seek refuge”
Why did you establish AHRRSU?
I established AHRRSU to provide services to Government Departments, National Authorities, Local Authorities, Town Council’s, Civilian Search and Rescue and Fire Rescue NGO´s to help them in their goal of saving lives. We have been involved in:
- Water-Bourne Rescue
- Flood Response
- Specialist Missing Persons Search
- Specialist security and law enforcement support
Can you tell us a little about what you do?
In June 2013 parts of Germany and Austria received more than 200mm of rain within 3 days leading to mass evacuations in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. These were regarded as the largest and most devastating floods seen on the river Danube. As a small SAR unit, we were just one of several hundred rescue units called upon across Hungary to assist in what would be the largest single emergency in the country’s history.
Our team arrived to the town of Szentendre, about 15miles north of Budapest, with a primary goal in providing reconnaissance, search and special response as well as patrols of areas effected by the flooding where the use of conventional vehicles and or boats could not be used.
Everyone who has been in a large scale flood situation, is that “just because it was there yesterday, doesn’t mean it will be there today”. This applies to terrain, including trees, buildings, road signs and points which one would usually use as indicators. The fear was that as the river Danube was rapidly rising, even without a breach there would be a number of homes that would be flooded. After spending a number about 6 hours searching for the breach, we found that the situation could only be contained via HELO air drops of sandbags. In the mean time an evacuation of residents needed to be instigated and for this reason, several methods including boats and military type amphibious vehicles were used.
Why Armadillo Merino®?
“Armadillo clothing protects those who are protecting” This is the best way of describing what Armadillo means to me”. One of the greatest dangers to SAR professionals is keeping moisture away from the body. In hot climates moisture will lead to discomfort from stickiness and promotes smelly bacteria while in the extreme cold it increases the chances of hypothermia. Neither of which you want to deal with in a rescue situation. Put simple stay dry with Armadillo and you stay alive.