This was one of the objectives for January’s “Snow Wheeling” Practical Training. A second objective was to get members behind the steering wheel of the tracked SAM1 in the snow. Mud with tracks we have done this month, in a crash course. Stating, “Well, we’ve never done this before” during a mission is not our preferred way to train. Search and rescue missions are not the best time to be learning what a piece of equipment can or cannot do. Mission events are also not the time to be expanding one’s personal comfort zone. Unfortunately, real-world events often get a jump on the scheduled Training Plan.

Thus, the mission for this training event was for Unit members to take the Jeep Rubicons (SAM2 and 3) and the tracked Side-by-Side out in a “controlled setting” (always a relative term) to exercise the vehicle capabilities and themselves to a fuller extent than they may have in the past. To find out what it takes to get the Rubicons stuck, then take the actions to get unstuck. “Go get into trouble.” (within reason).

A Friday scouting trip around Carson City determined that Goni Road and surrounding area would be the place to accomplish this mission. Pulling a vehicle out of the snow on Goni Road while out that day may have helped determine the choice.

Washes and ditches are hiding. “Hey, it happens”.

As members took turns driving SAM1 they would also take turns driving SAM2 or 3. Each Jeep, with a Unit approved Personally Owned Vehicle in support, would pick its own path along Goni’s many side roads. The Jeeps started out with a tire pressure of 15psi with one Jeep eventually going to 8psi for comparison. Tow and recovery straps were used. One of the teams performed a vector pull to test that capability (defined below). Shoveling also became an effective skillset, along with pushing in some cases. One team member determined the limit of SAM1’s forward travel relative to snow depth too!

It turned out to be yet another terrific training event! Timely also as the Team was back out to the area six-hours later to retrieve a stuck vehicle and family of three. This time the training got a jump on the mission requirement.

Vector Pull – The stuck vehicle is connected to an anchor vehicle from behind via a taut tow strap. With the stuck vehicle placed in Reverse, and the anchor vehicle brakes on, people power is used to push or pull the taut tow strap horizontally. In our case the stuck vehicle was frame deep in the snow with no shoveling performed (opening photo). The stuck vehicle popped right out of the snow! Physics! Who knew! This technique can be handy if a tow vehicle starts to dig itself in while attempting to pull out a stuck vehicle. As we learned during a previous training event that ranged a little outside the “controlled setting”.