HAMNET Report 21st June 2020

Firstly may I greet all the fathers out there, especially those who volunteer their time and expertise to help their communities with emergency or community events? Have a great Father’s Day, and be grateful for your wonderful families!

Wilderness Search and Rescue in the Western Cape reports that, at 12h47 on Sunday the 14th of June 2020 they were activated after a caller requested assistance for a hiker who had suffered a medical emergency while hiking in the central section of the Table Mountain National Park above Hout Bay.

Due to the nature of the incident, Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) were dispatched to insert a Metro Emergency Medical Rescue Technician as well as a Rescue Climber at the location of the patient. On arrival, it was found that the 58 year old local male who was in a small party of hikers, may have experienced heart complications. While the person was receiving treatment from the rescuers, an emergency Landing Zone (LZ) was secured by WSAR members and other services including HAMNET at a nearby location.

After the patient was stabilised, he was placed in a stretcher and hoisted to the helicopter which delivered him to the LZ. He was then transferred to a road ambulance and taken to a medical facility for further treatment.

We would like to thank the NSRI who assisted WSAR in securing the emergency LZ for the operation. WSAR wishes the gentleman a speedy recovery.

From UniverseToday, we learn that, over the years, scientific estimates of potential intelligent life in our galaxy have ranged widely. Some estimates say just one (only us Earthlings) to just a handful, to possibly thousands or even millions. A new study attempts to quantify the number of other worlds we could potentially talk to by estimating the number of intelligent civilizations within the Milky Way that are actively communicating.

That number is 36, plus or minus a few dozen, depending on various assumptions. And the research team says this number is a lower limit, based on the assumption of how life arose and how long radio communications have been used here on Earth.

To make their estimates, the research team from the University of Nottingham said they take into account various factors like star formation histories, the distribution of metal-rich stars (like the Sun) and the likelihood of stars hosting Earth-like planets in their habitable zones.

They call their assumptions the “Astrobiological Copernican Limit” and the limit is either weak or strong based on when intelligent life arises on the planet.

But even if we do have a large number of talkative neighbours, there are a few caveats that make two-way communication seem unlikely. Other worlds are likely so far away – the Nottingham team estimates the average distance to these radio-active civilizations would be 17,000 light-years away – that detection and communication would be extremely difficult and unlikely, given our current technology.

The researchers also estimate the likelihood is extremely small that the host stars for communicating intelligent life are solar-type stars, and most would have to be M-class dwarfs, which may not be stable enough to host life over long timescales.

It is also possible that we are the only civilization within our Galaxy unless the survival times of civilizations like our own are long.

But like most theoretical research, the team says, it’s the journey, not the destination that counts.

By searching for extraterrestrial intelligent life — even if we find nothing — we are discovering our own future and fate.

Thank you to UniverseToday for these excerpts from their newsletter.

Now here’s a feel-good story from capetownetc.com, about a touching rescue on Table Mountain this week that showed the love between a man and his best friend, as a young dog was saved after falling in a ravine, and returned to his owner.

At 2.52pm on Tuesday June 16, 2020 Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) was again activated after a caller reported that his dog had fallen down the steep Slangolie Ravine while he was out hiking at the southern end of the Pipe Track. This ravine is in the northern section of the Table Mountain National Park overlooking the suburb of Bakoven.

Rescuers made their way towards the location of the incident. On arrival they found a six month old dog quite low down in the very overgrown ravine, which would require a team of Rescue Climbers to retrieve.

In order to aid the operation, rope and pulley systems were attached to the rock above the Pipe Track as well as hauling equipment anchored to old disused water pipes and other metal structures.

Just after nightfall, the dog was safely returned to his owner at the Pipe Track. From there, all rescuers and members of the public were walked off the mountain via a nearby jeep track.

There’s a lovely picture attached to the report of the dog and his owner enjoying a relieved cuddle after the rescue. Thank you to all the volunteers who spent their public holiday rescuing a puppy.

Now, writing in Paediatric Pulmonology, a group, investigating reports from 38 different studies of 1117 children infected with Covid-19, note that clinical manifestations of children with COVID-19 differ widely from adult cases and say fever and respiratory symptoms should not be considered a hallmark of the disease in children.

In these studies, roughly 14 per cent were asymptomatic, 36 per cent were mild, 46 per cent were moderate, 2 per cent were severe, and 1 per cent was critical. This review found that the most prevalent symptoms in children were fever (47.5%), followed by cough (41.5%), nasal symptoms (11.2%), diarrhoea (8.1%), and nausea/vomiting (7.1%).

CT abnormalities were reported in 63.0 per cent of cases. The most prevalent abnormalities reported were ground-glass opacities, patchy shadows and consolidations in the lungs. Wonderfully, only one death was reported!

And a study of screened cases in a random grouping of adults tested in Geneva Switzerland, and reported on this last Monday, says that it can be concluded that for every confirmed case of Covid-19, there were about 11.6 infections in the community. This is of course in a first world country. I wouldn’t know how to extrapolate those figures to the population in South Africa. We are clearly not testing everybody, so are probably missing many, many mild cases here.

This pandemic is not over yet – we still have a long, long way to go!

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.