Secrets of the Police Rescue Rat Pack

A little while back I took part in a Land Search and Rescue workshop run by the Blue Mountains Police Rescue squad. It’s just one of the many great training opportunities thanks to the Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad.

Learning from each other - a great training weekend.

Learning from each other – a great training weekend.

On this two day workshop, we worked with our colleagues in other volunteer squads such as the SES and RFS. We learnt about Search Management from Police Rescue and put everything we learnt into practice during some NavEx and SarEx activities.

Bulkier and heavier than I'm used to

Heavier than I’m used to

One unexpected insight we got into Police operations this weekend, was the ration packs or “Rat Packs” that we were given. In fact, we were told that we were guinea pigs for the testing of what could become the new rat packs as part of their SOPSs during search and rescue operations. Actually, it turns out that we were the crash test dummies of the 2nd version of these packs. Even though they couldn’t tell us what happened to the first set of testers, we happily munched on, devouring our tasty bundles of joy.

Apart from the overall bulk and weight of the rat pack, these bags were pretty amazing. The 1 day pack certainly had enough food and sustenance for me for two days!

Day 1

  • Bounce Protein ball (coconut and macadamia)
  • Annie’s Fruit Leather (boysenberry and apple)
  • Brookfarm Gluten Free Muesli Bar
  • SPC Peaches
  • John West Tuna & Beans
  • Mrs May’s Almond Nutty Toffee Bites (delish!)
  • M&Ms
  • Squinch (Electrolyte powder)
  • PK chewing gum
  • Main Meal: Chicken Jambalaya + Hot Pack


Without a doubt, the most impressive part of the pack, was the Hot Packs. Apparently, these are common amongst the military, but as a humble Aussie hiker, I’d never come across these. Put simply, it’s how to heat your main meal in what looks like a plain plastic bag, by only adding an inch of cold water to the bottom. Yep, with a few nifty little chemicals, these things work like magic. (I’m going to post a video in a coming blog me using one so you can see it in action).

Day 2

  • Up & Go
  • SPC Peaches
  • Oat Slice
  • Protein Bounce Ball
  • Brookfarm Muesli Bar
  • Annie’s Fruit Leather (boysenberry and apple)
  • Squinch (Electrolyte powder)
  • Main Meal: Beef Stew + Hot Pack
More yum on the 2nd Day

More yum on the 2nd Day

It was a good weekend with just the right balance of theory and practical. One of the particularly good outcomes, was getting to know some of the folk from the other agencies and how they work. In fact, we’ve already been on call-out operations with them since and it was great to work alongside some of these familiar faces.

Thanks to the Blue Mountains PRS (Particularly SD, IC and DA) for all their efforts. Great stuff.

Oh, and I found another use for the M&Ms in the rat pack!


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  1. says

    One thing I never understand with ration packs is why they included tinned food products. Tins are heavy and bulky when empty. I was recently given some military ration packs to take hiking with me and the weight of them was crazy heavy (think 2-3kg per day compared with my 700g per day) but it was the inclusion of tins that really had me baffled. I notice tins in your SAR packs too. I wouldn’t carry Up n Go with me either. Powdered milk and cocoa to which I could add water yes, but a heavy popper. Perhaps I’m just fussy – LOL.

    I love those Oat Slices (day 2 pack pic). 400 calories in 100g food. Now that’s proper calorie for weight value. I use them when I run, cycle and hike.

    Looks like it was a great course :)

  2. Dcasey says

    The hot packs have been around for a quite few years now. Back Country from New Zealand is one brand that do them.

    They are handy if there is a fire ban but apart form that reason I will still take my stove as I like my coffee to much :)

  3. Tony says

    haha… You have obviously never been in the military, the weight of canned food is not a big issue when you are also carrying a rifle, several hundred rounds of ammo, spare radio batteries, extra rounds for the section machine gun, demolition gear, etc, all on top of rations for however many days or weeks you need. Heavy loads.. yes.

    • says

      Indeed Tony. But I do walk with people who have been… Their knees are completely dodgy and cause them great pain – their time serving in the military has greatly affected their ability to now do the things in the outdoors they love.

      I try to take care of my ageing knees! I want to walk for a long time into my 90’s!

      • Tony says

        hmmm…. yes indeed, I have been in service for 23 years now and still in. My right knee is pretty stuffed, left is OK but it only takes one bung knee to slow you down :(

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