Mere moments after the medical orderlies and stretcher bearers of 3 Medical Battalion Group, led by the beautiful old horse-drawn ambulance wagon, had left the arena, the lights dimmed. This signalled the start of one of my favourite parts of the evening’s performance: the mock attack!
This was a modern-day demonstration of the difficult and challenging work done by the South African Military Health Service, who also give medical support to the soldiers of the SANDF on the battlefield.
The scenario was the following: a search and rescue mission, consisting of troops from the Cape Town Rifles (Dukes), had come under attack, and one of their members was wounded during the exchange of fire. Immediately, the other members of the group formed a defensive perimeter around their wounded comrade, thus protecting him against further fire, and making it possible for the operational medics to give emergency treatment to him.
While the wounded soldier was being treated, however, one of the medics was wounded, and further emergency medical support had to be requested. As the din of a hovering helicopter filled the arena (this was a recording, as it would be far too dangerous to use a real helicopter here), “the seriously wounded patient is airlifted to the field hospital, whilst the lighter wounded patient is transported out by ambulance” (program notes). Meanwhile, the last of the ‘attackers’ was shot and killed.
During the afternoons, I took some behind-the-scenes photographs of the soldiers from the Cape Town Rifles who made up the mock attack team, as they were cleaning their gear, oiling their rifles and checking their ammunition (blanks, please note!) 🙂 It was nice to see how diligent they were in looking after their equipment.
Most of the photographs I took during the actual performance were underexposed (too dark), partly because I hadn’t used the optimal settings, but also because there wasn’t much ambient light during the attack.
It was one of those challenging situations: as there was a LOT of fast movement, I needed a relatively fast shutter speed to avoid blurring the action. But the fast shutter speed meant that there also wasn’t much light coming in, and there wasn’t that much ambient light anyway. I thus tried to increase the ISO to about 3200, which meant that the pictures sometimes became rather grainy, and they were still fairly dark. Fortunately, the image processing software made it possible to rescue many of them!
P.S. If you want to see a stunning photograph of the thunderflash as it explodes, have a look at Brent and Lorraine’s pictures here. Absolutely AWESOME!