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Dropzone Unknown

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Remote Area Medical
Photo: ramusa.org

With all of the worldwide disasters happening, have you thought about joining in and helping out somehow? Skydiving skills, to reach people in isolated areas, are being used by Remote Area Medical, to bring in help where it is needed yet where it is inaccessible by conventional ground transportation.

Remote Area Medical - RAM Airborne

Remote Area Medical, RAM, has been providing humanitarian aid to people worldwide since 1985, with the airborne division currently on the rise and seeking skydivers. Founded by Stan Brock, from the show Wild Kingdom, RAM and its volunteers are “Pioneers of No-Cost Health Care” with well over 400 missions in the US and abroad.

The first RAM Airborne mission was to Tennessee in 2005, proving that skydivers and cargo can be dropped into an unknown area, on top of a hill in the Appalachian Mountains. The next RAM Airborne mission is to Guyana in South America, to clear trees from existing grass runways; making them accessible once more by airplanes. From March 26 to April 9, RAM’s mission to Guyana will provide air-ambulance access to the people living in the nearby villages. This is a non-medical mission, but medical support is needed, in the event of an injury or medical emergency during the mission.

An additional trail team is being recruited, not requiring skydiving skills, to re-clear a trail in the Amazon forest, connecting two villages to another airstrip which was repaired by a RAM team in 2004.

This will be a physically demanding mission, to clear large trees and thick undergrowth, while living in a tent or hammock. Hiking through the Amazon forest is no walk through the park either, with machetes in hand and packs on your back; these are a few things to keep in mind, and a few things to savor, for those who want to come for the adventure.

Skills Being Sought:

Skydivers must have a B-license or better, with an average of 100 jumps as a minimum; good canopy control and a canopy wing loading of 1.3 or less are expected, because there’s no room for error, and no hospitals to go to if you biff your landing. As you may have guessed, no hook turns allowed. You bring in your own gear for camping, and you pay for your own airfare to and from Georgetown, Guyana – but it is tax-deductible, since it is for a humanitarian effort. It is the most direct way to give, by providing your skills directly where it is needed!

RAM is also seeking people with medical skills, to handle any potential injuries that may happen, one per team at a minimum – more if possible – plus some basic medical supplies. The rest of the team is not required to be medically trained but everyone must be physically prepared – this is not your typical working-holiday trip overseas – it is hard work and it is worth it.

Videographers are also being sought, to help document this first-time-ever event. Proof of skills will be necessary, to ensure one’s safety, and others’ as well; video cameras may also be provided, as details are confirmed. Videographers would be the first to land, then film the others as they land; the case-of-beer policy will be waived, mainly because there are no stores to go get any and no refrigeration either.

If you or someone you know is interested – here are some things to begin doing:
  1. Work on hop and pop exits and accurate landings
  2. Gear up your camping supplies – for a two-week camping trip
  3. Get in shape – it’s a load of work and physically exhausting
  4. Join RAM as a volunteer – send an e-mail to karen @ karenhawes.com for further details, or go to http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Mission-FAQ.htm

RAM Camp

If you want to work on the skills necessary for this type of skydiving mission, there will be a “RAM Camp” training program offered in mid-March at Skydive Arizona, prior to the Guyana mission from March 16 - 19, to hone or develop your skills in:

  1. Spotting, exiting and landing in unfamiliar areas
  2. Cargo-bail preparations and air drops
  3. Basic field-medical skills, stitching open-wounds, making traction splints
  4. Basic camping and navigation skills
  5. Other survival tips and tricks to know, plus pitfalls to avoid
Prospective volunteers, who complete this course and display the necessary skill level required, will be selected over volunteers who do not. For more information about the RAM Camp, go to http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Camp.htm

This course will be taught by three RAM volunteers, with years of experience in the areas of skills being taught:

  • Rene Steinhauer – Medical Aid in Remote Areas
  • Bryan Burke – Cargo/Spotting/Airdrops and Navigation
  • Karen Hawes – Travel Tips (for men and women) and Gadgets in the Wild

RAM Camp Instructors

All three trainers will cover their own areas of expertise, and survival skills training, based on actual in-field experience; with personal experiences ranging from domestic and international relief efforts, everyone has something to learn in this course.

Here’s a brief background of each instructor:

Rene Steinhauer RN, CFRN, EMT-P – Rene is a currently working as a flight nurse in Antarctica till February 2006. He has worked on humanitarian projects around the world and has also worked as a combat medic on the front lines in Iraq. He has trained civilian and military personnel in remote and combat medicine for years. He is also one of the founding members of RAM Airborne.

Bryan Burke – Safety and Training Advisor at Skydive Arizona, with two decades in the sport and 3,200 jumps. Although he is known in the sport as the organizer of numerous boogies and competitions, he also has considerable experience with parachute testing, skydiving for the entertainment industry, and other applications that require precise airborne delivery. Most of his off-DZ time is spent kayaking, backpacking, or rafting in remote wilderness areas.

Karen Hawes – A Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin, with 500 jumps on 6 continents in 12 countries and at over 100 dropzones, she has been a RAM volunteer since 2004. She is the current RAM Airborne recruiter, with three missions to: Guyana (airstrip repair), Sumatra (tsunami relief), and Tennessee (first RAM airdrop mission). A fourth RAM mission to New Orleans is scheduled, for the second week in February 2006. She is also working on configuring solar power sources for hand-held electronic devices, to be used on remote-area missions.

For More Information and to Sign-Up

For more information on the mission in March and the RAM Camp, go to:

http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Mission-FAQ.htm
http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Camp.htm

Come One, Come All!

If someone you know is interested, but not a skydiver, then now is the time to begin training and cap it off with one of the RAM Camps, to be ready for future missions. If you already have the skydiving skills, you can take advantage of this unique opportunity to add “Humanitarian” to your list of skills and world experiences.

Find out more about RAM at www.ramusa.org and join the adventure!




By Karen Hawes on 2006-02-26 | Last Modified on 2006-06-01

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