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German Mountain Guides

By Cpl. Nicolas Marut
First published in
SFOR Informer #89, June 7, 2000

Sarajevo - If an accident occurs in the middle of mountains, or in a zone with difficult access because of the terrain, SFOR has specialised intervention teams. In the German Battlegroup, this task goes to the Mountain Guides. In this case, SSgt. Jürgen "Brandy" Brandhuber and SSgt. Herbert Berger are also part of Camp Carreau's (Rajlovac) Medical Evacuation team (MEDEVAC).

Equipped with modern mountaineering equipment and with 500 metres of rope at their disposal they can intervene 24 hours a day within 10 minutes from the alert call. In mountainous zones, they can prepare an access route so that the physicians can reach the casualties. They are also fully trained to administer first aid. They are also trained for the transport of the casualties when the area is unreachable by back-up medical staff. When the accident occurs in a minefield, where the scenario allows, they can make extractions from light helicopter winches without touching the ground. Standard MEDEVACs are carried out in CH-53Gs.

To maintain a high operational level the two Guides spend most of their time practising. "Every day, one of us remains in alert status for 24 hours in the Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC) in Rajlovac. The other leaves to train in mountains," explains Jürgen. The most used training site is a rocky wall ten minutes drive east of Sarajevo, close to the so-called "bridge that makes no sense." This incomplete structure that is not joined to any road is also ideal to rope down. "We don't come alone, but with a medical team. We train them so that they can follow us in the mountains," emphasised Brandhuber.
The training to become a mountain guide in the German Army lasts eight months. "Four months in summertime, and four months in wintertime, so that one is trained for all types of weather conditions. Training is in Germany, close to Berchtesgaden, but also on the Mont-Blanc, in France and Italy," explains Brandhuber. In every session, an average 18 of the 27 trainees get their diploma.

The two mountain guides also use their expertise in the Camp Carreau. During last winter, they helped in clearing the roofs of snow. More recently, they installed lights on the top of a building for a concert that was held in the camp.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Germany
SFOR at Work