Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks provides a helping hand in mountain rescue: Unimog extreme off-roader for the mountain rescue team in the Black Forest

  • Mountain rescue service tests a modular loading concept while putting the new vehicle through its paces
  • The all-wheel-drive truck readies them for any emergency – from mountain rescues to floods
  • Stuttgart / Feldberg. In readiness for the start of the winter sport season, the Special Trucks division at Mercedes-Benz has loaned the mountain rescue services in Baden-Württemberg a Unimog U 4000 with a seven-seater double cab. With it, the mountain rescue crews have the possibility to put the Unimog extreme off-roader concept to the test on the Feldberg mountain in the Upper Black Forest region.
Karsten Fuchs, Head of Sales in Germany for Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks, handed over the key ceremonially with these words: "The first 50 years of the Unimog history were linked with the town of Gaggenau and thus the vehicle wasn't just born in the Black Forest, but it was also put through its paces on a daily basis in the harsh agricultural and forestry tasks of the area. In this respect, we at Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks are particularly pleased to be able to lend a helping hand to the volunteers of the Black Forest mountain rescue service in the form of this world-renowned vehicle, which have proved itself in the toughest of off-road terrain."

Upon receiving the Unimog U 4000, the Managing Director of the Baden-Württemberg mountain rescue service, Lutz Scherer, noted: "Emergency operations in difficult terrain are always particularly challenging for the rescue services and their materials. We are therefore very grateful that Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks is providing us with this Unimog. The vehicle is absolutely perfect for our specific requirements and it will help us to help victims in a much more appropriate way."

The Unimog with the Upper Black Forest mountain rescue service

The Feldberg area is a great place to try out the Unimog for mountain rescue operations. At altitudes of 1493 m, there reigns a harsh climate with storms and snow, as well as a steep, craggy topography. The Unimog and its off-road competence will also help the mountain rescuers to work better with other organisations. What is more, the Unimog will improve the level of protection which the mountain rescue service can offer to people, for example after floods, and if the worst happens, the team transport cab also gives them a greater transport capacity in the event of a major mountain rescue operation. With a trailer suitable for off-road use, boats, generators, snowmobiles and other heavy devices can also be taken along to difficult-to-reach places as required.

The Unimog U 4000 on-loan to the mountain rescue service features a cab for transporting an entire team, with a total of seven seats. With a wheelbase of 3850 mm and a steel drop-side body with tarpaulin, the mountain rescuers store all of the necessary rescue materials in modules. The four-cylinder OM 924 LA Euro V diesel engine offers performance of 160 kW/218 hp, which is transmitted to the wheels by an all-wheel drive system. A great advantage of the Unimog extreme off-roader are its optimal driving characteristics in tough off-road terrain and the extremely impressive robustness and frame torsion of up to 600 mm when driving off-road. Among the vehicle's characteristics are portal axles and a low centre of gravity as well extremely favourable values for the approach and departure angles (44 degrees at the front, 51 degrees at the rear), the ramp angle (34 degrees) and the climbing ability (45 degrees) – all of which make the Unimog extreme off-roader unique. In addition to this there is the maximum fording depth of 1.20 m and a lateral inclination angle of up to 38 degrees.

The modular loading concept of the Unimog for mountain rescue operations

So-called rescue modules are loaded in trolleys in order to equip the Unimog as quickly as possible with additionally required materials for the various types of operation. On-board for emergency situations are, among other things, the cablecar module and the illumination module with emergency power generator and floodlights. The care module includes tents equipped for providing first-aid to victims. The avalanche module comprises material for organised probing for and rescue of avalanche victims. By loading the avalanche module on the vehicle, the Black Forest mountain rescuers can save on the procurement of additional materials for each of the mountain rescue stations at Belchen, Feldberg and Schauinsland.

Rescue in difficult terrain

On behalf of the state of Baden-Württemberg, the Black Forest mountain rescue service (Bergwacht Schwarzwald e.V.) manages mountain rescue operations off the beaten track and away from civilisation in the difficult terrain of the Black Forest whilst also looking after numerous ski pistes, cross-country skiing trails, lifts and cablecars in the region. Furthermore, the Feldberg region is an incredible tourist magnet with more than nine million visitors per year, but unfortunately there are also up to 600 emergency rescue operations in which the mountain rescuers were called out.

The area which the Upper Black Forest mountain rescue service covers is split into three circular operational zones around the Feldberg mountain. They are also called out to bigger emergencies which can be as far away as the Swiss or French border. The tasks range from floods to rescue journeys in the Alps. In the spring and summer months, the mountain rescue teams predominantly rescue walkers, rock climbers and paragliders. They even carry out rescues in caves. In the winter months, the vast majority of their operations concern winter sports and avalanche rescues. All year round, the mountain rescue service carries out rescue operations by air as well as cablecar evacuations.

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