Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point --
Imagine the rain getting heavier as you navigate the muddy slopes of the Croatan National Forest. Both you and your partner slip and slide down the hills trying not to fall or drop the 200-pound medevac litter carrying a young man whose life is in your hands. You must persevere through these horrid conditions in order to get to the landing zone.
Marine Transport Squadron 1 search and rescue medical technician Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Honnoll, accompanied by his rescue swimmer, experienced those exact conditions during one of his first training exercises.
It is imperative that search and rescue members be at their best, both in their physical abilities and in their mental readiness before going on missions or training exercises.
When the Marines and Sailors of VMR-1 are not conducting SAR training or missions, the squadron trains for its biannual physical fitness test.
In addition to the normal physical fitness test, VMR-1 search and rescue crews are required to take a biannual SAR fitness test.
The SAR fitness test consists of doing at least four pull-ups, a 100-yard walk while carrying 100-pounds, and a one-mile hike with a medivac litter, another name for a folding stretcher.
During the walk, the SAR member has to carry two 50-pound dumbbells while stepping over four obstacles 14-inches in height.
During the mile hike, SAR members must carry a 35-pound litter on their backs.
Additionally, SAR rescue swimmers have to complete a 900-meter swim in order to maintain their title, rescue swimmer.
The 900-meter course consists of a 500-meter swim, with the last 400-meters performed while dragging a simulated victim.
“Swimmers have to finish (the course) in less than 27 minutes,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Smith, VMR-1 SAR’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge. “If they do not complete the swim or fail to meet the time requirements, the swimmer will have 30 days to prepare and retest. If the swimmer does not qualify after his second try, he is no longer a rescue swimmer.”
The 100-yard walk must be completed in less than 1 minute and 25 seconds.
The mile hike must be completed in less than 16 minutes and 30 seconds.
Smith said if a SAR member fails one of the legs of the test, he is reassigned to a different job and removed from the SAR team.