HAMNET Report 7th May 2023

On Thursday, GDACS reported that heavy rainfall hit the northern, western and southern provinces of Rwanda, causing floods, triggering landslides and leading to casualties and damage.

According to the Government of Rwanda, at least 127 people have died across the affected provinces, media report several injured people and some others still missing. In addition, some houses collapsed, and two main roads are impassable due to flooding and landslides.

Rescue interventions conducted by the national authorities are ongoing across the worst-hit locations, while moderate rain continues over most parts of the country.

Cape Town’s Wilderness Search and Rescue agency has reported yet another rescue of a foreign tourist.

Dedicated teams of professionals and volunteers from Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) responded to Table Mountain after a tourist injured himself near Maclear’s Beacon on Wednesday afternoon.

Teams were dispatched to the lower cable station shortly after 16h00 on Wednesday when a foreign tour group reported that one of their members had injured himself.

The 28 year-old had slipped and hurt himself while walking back to the upper cable station from Maclear’s Beacon. He was unable to continue further, and a call was made to the emergency number.

A rescue team was transported to the top of Table Mountain in the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway.

Once on top the team quickly hiked to the patient. He was treated on scene and placed into a stretcher. The terrain taming stretcher wheel was again put to good use, allowing the team to quickly carry the injured gentleman back to the upper cable station, from where they were all brought down to safety in the Cable Car.

A spokesperson for Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR), David Nel said: “We’re mindful that many visitors will not know our mountains, gorges and valleys as well as locals.

“It’s an honour to support the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town tourist safety programmes.

“We again appeal to anyone venturing into wilderness areas to be cautious as the trails are still wet and very slippery in places. We would like to wish our patient a speedy recovery and we hope that he enjoys his remaining time in our beautiful city,” Nel said.

Now here is a good idea from Australia. The Nagaland Post reports that Australians in disaster zones will receive instant phone warnings from a new National Messaging System (NMS).

Murray Watt, Minister for Emergency Management, and Communications Minister Michelle Rowland announced the rollout of the NMS on Tuesday, saying it could save lives, reports Xinhua news agency.

The new system will allow state and territory governments instantly to send emergency warning notifications to mobile phones in a defined area in multiple languages.

It will replace the current SMS-based system, which was often overwhelmed during emergencies such as bushfires, delaying messages.

“Drawing on technology currently used overseas, the speed and effectiveness of the NMS will substantially improve Australia’s ability to send prioritized warnings from trusted sources, to prevent the loss of life, injury, damage to property, and mitigate the spread of misinformation during disasters,” the Ministers said in a statement.

“Being able to communicate effectively — from communities receiving emergency messages as quickly as possible to emergency service operators responding to an event — is critical in ensuring that there is minimal disruption to communities and individuals.”

The landmark royal commission into Australia’s natural disaster responses, which was held in the wake of the devastating 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, warned that safety messaging around disasters needed to be improved.

It found that the inconsistent approach of each state and territory having its own messaging warning system led to the public questioning the reliability of messages.

The new system will be designed and tested over the next 18 months before being implemented nationwide in time for the 2024-25 bushfire season.

In a report from Phys.org, Researchers from the Space Medicine Team, European Space Agency in Germany have conducted a study published in Scientific Reports that found female astronauts have lower water requirements for hydration, total energy expenditure, oxygen (O2) consumption, carbon dioxide (CO2) and metabolic heat production during space exploration missions compared to their male counterparts.

In the study, “Effects of body size and countermeasure exercise on estimates of life support resources during all-female crewed exploration missions,” the team utilized an approach developed to estimate the effects of body “size” on life support requirements in male astronauts. For all parameters at all statures, estimates for females were lower than for comparable male astronauts.

When considering the limited space, energy, weight, and life support systems packed into a spacecraft on a long mission, the study finds that the female form is the most efficient body type for space exploration.

According to NASA, the cost of getting payloads to the International Space Station (ISS) is $93,400 per kg. The study found that on a 1080-day mission, a four-member all-female crew would require 1695 kg less food weight. With some simple arithmetic, the mission could save over $158 million and free up 2.3 m3 of space (food packaging),

Compared to a previous study of theoretical male astronauts, the effect of body size on total energy expenditure was markedly less in females, with relative differences ranging from 5% to 29% lower. This translates into reduced use of oxygen, production of CO2, metabolic heat, and water use.

When exposed to the prolonged microgravity of space, bad things happen to astronaut bodies. Physiological changes induce muscle atrophy, bone loss, and reduced aerobic and sensorimotor capacity, potentially affecting crewmember health and ability to perform mission tasks.

While body size alone correlates to energy metrics (smaller stature, less energy used), missions requiring countermeasure exercise, designed to counter the physiological effects of being weightless, increase this disparity as larger bodies use more energy, need more oxygen, produce more CO2 and create more heat. Additionally, the study found that females had 29% less water loss through sweating during a single bout of aerobic countermeasure exercise and so required less water to rehydrate.

The theoretical differences between female and male astronauts result from the lower resting and exercising O2 requirements of female astronauts, who are lighter than male astronauts at equivalent statures, and have lower relative VO2max values, which are the rates at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise.

Aside from resource usage, there are also advantages in functional workspaces, especially when multiple astronauts are working in the same confined area, as often happens on the ISS. Aboard the ISS, the astronauts have just enough room to stand and work shoulder-to-shoulder or back-to-back when necessary. The spaces in the proposed NASA Gateway craft are tighter, creating a less ergonomic environment for multiple crew members to work together. Tighter spaces could operate just as efficiently with a smaller crew.

The study data, combined with the move towards smaller diameter habitat space for currently proposed mission modules, suggest that there may be several operational advantages to all-female crews during future human space exploration missions, with the most significant improvement coming from shorter females.

Oh dear, another example of the male of the species becoming more superfluous. No wonder female Praying Mantis bite the heads of their males off after mating!

This is Dave Reece, ZS1DFR, glad he is not a male Praying Mantis, and reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.