Landing School, WISE build amphibious ice rescue vehicle

Maine-based The Landing School and New Hampshire-based WISE Technology have teamed up to develop a composites-intensive craft for rescuing people from frozen waterways.

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The Landing School (Arundel, Maine, USA), a post-secondary institution focused on educating tomorrow’s marine industry professionals, is pleased to announce the collaboration of faculty members with WISE Technology, developer of the AIR Responder, a first of its kind amphibious ice rescue vehicle.

Every year there are winter accidents that require rescue personnel to pull people from a frozen waterway. This highly volatile situation can be just as dangerous for the responders as it is for the victim. Current successful water rescue tactics for either static (swimming pools, small ponds and flat water beaches) or dynamic (open ocean, lakes and rivers) are dependent upon time. The more quickly the rescue team can locate, access and remove the person at risk the better the chance of survival.

In an effort to develop a safer and more responsive solution to ice and cold water emergencies, WISE Technology(Gilford, N.H., USA), has produced a unique amphibious vehicle specifically for ice and cold water situations. The AIR (Amphibious Ice Rescue) Responder is designed to handle any ice conditions faster and more safely than any craft available. Powered by a snowmobile, the unique hull allows the AIR Responder to move agilely from one surface to another whether its ice, broken ice, snow or open water.

The construction of the hull is where the faculty of The Landing School put their expertise to work. Chris Audy, composite boat building instructor, and Derek Wright, yacht design instructor, spent their summer building a prototype for the hull of the AIR Responder. Audy and Wright added a structural grid system to the hull that provided additional stiffness and reduced the weight by changing the laminate schedule and adding Kevlar in the regions that impact the ice. Jamie Houtz, also a Landing School faculty member and experienced Fire Department captain, weighed in on the design to ensure it would suit the needs of responding personnel.

The collaborative result is a first of its kind vehicle specifically designed to handle the rigors of the ice and cold water environment. The low center of gravity, combined with the foam-filled hull, make the Responder incredibly stable and essentially unsinkable. The low freeboard of mere inches along with the integrated edge rollers makes victim recovery simple and quick. This product allows the responders to focus on the quick and safe recovery of the victim. In timed tests, the Responder was able to reach, recover and return a victim to shore before other current systems could even be deployed.

“We are very pleased that our faculty had the opportunity to participate in this project with WISE Technology,” says Robert DeColfmacker, Landing School president. “Not only were we able to help a local company fulfill its goal of developing a new-to-market product, but it’s a product that will be used to save many lives. It’s a win-win situation and a great lesson for our students on the positive outcome of collaboration.”

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