Thursday, 30 September 2010

Phew! We survived our first night in the jungle!

After 3 days’ training, it’s a relief all round to discover that the project managers can survive the jungle.  With the help of local guides and Raleigh staff, we have learned a range of skills that some of us never thought we would need, but were delighted to discover we could master.
We started gently, with an introduction to some of the tools we will be working with on the project sites, and how to use them safely. 
 Saws and drills were familiar to some, but the machete (known as a parang here in Borneo) was a less familiar sight, and we were glad of Floyd’s expertise.
As our primary means of communicating with Field Base, each project site will be using the radio daily and needs to become proficient.  So far so good!
 After all that sitting around in the sunshine, it was time for a refreshing dip in the river.  Oh wait... it’s more training!  How to cross a river without a bridge!
Next came the turn of the medics to impart some of their expertise.  Although the Field Base medic will be on call at all times, all project managers receive first aid training and a useful overview of the typical ailments that might occur during the course of the expedition.
To ensure that the medical training stays fresh in our minds throughout the expedition, we were treated to a live casualty simulation on our way out of the jungle.  Another excuse to put our radio training into practice, and an opportunity to burn a few more calories carrying a stretcher.  Thank goodness our casualty made a miraculous recovery after a few hundred metres!
Now the part we’d all been worried about:  how to build a basher.  This jungle bed, comprising a hammock strung between two trees and covered with a tarpaulin shelter, was constructed skilfully by Floyd in a matter of minutes.  We had a feeling it might take us a little longer when our turn came along that night.  More importantly, would our own first attempt manage to hold our weight for the entire night?

 Training completed, we trekked off into the jungle where we would find the answer to that very question.  Despite the torrential rain, we managed to build a pretty good looking set of bashers – even if we did have to do most of them twice!
 We all nervously made our way to bed, fearing a sleepless night for the fortunate ones, and a plethora of injuries caused by collapsing hammocks for the less fortunate.  The reality?  A pretty good night’s sleep was had by all, and not a bruise in sight!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The team is complete!

The Field Base team have now been joined by the project managers and medics, completing the team of volunteer managers for this expedition.  There are new faces to meet, and old faces to greet and Field Base is now abuzz with enthusiastic anticipation of what’s to come.

The project managers are a motley crew who bring a wide range of skills and experience to the Raleigh party.  Amongst the team we count engineers and scientists, mountain leaders and teachers, youth workers and development officers.  (There are a few pen pushers too, but we have it on strong authority that by the end of our training nobody will be able to tell the difference!)
Let’s meet the new faces.
The project managers are (clockwise from top right):  Andi Craig, Leigh Fairbrother, Andrea Scott, David Rakowski, Clive Harrison, Phili Newell, Kate Langley, Nicky Howell, Caroline Banks, Helen Denny, Pete Cowling, James McLean, Abby Kirby, Stacey Amey
The medics form the final contingent.  A combination of doctors and nurses, our medical team is vital in providing medical support and advice across the expedition, helping to ensure that all participants return home healthy.  A medic will be present on each of the more remote project sites, as well as providing 24-hour back-up from Field Base.
The medics (from left): Simon Davies, Paz Tayal, Jo Bamford, Emily Symington, Marie Thomas, Becky Matthews, Emma Ashby.
Introductions over, it’s straight down to business as we begin to get to know one of our most crucial pieces of equipment, the radio.
We’re all off to the jungle now to continue the training and to start honing our survival skills.  We’ll be back in touch in a few days!