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It'll go in the snow: National Guard debuts unstoppable vehicle for winter rescues

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Getting to remote locations through deep snow and uneven freezing on lakes and wetlands can pose dangerous conditions for rescue crews working in Minnesota winters.

Now the National Guard unit based in Cloquet is equipped with a new vehicle that can provide unprecedented access. The Pine Journal in Cloquet reports their diesel-powered Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV) can roll through almost any conditions that winter can dish out.

“It doesn’t matter how deep the snow is, because the vehicle rides on top of the snow,” Staff Sgt. Brandon Crotteau, the SUSV’s primary driver, explained to the newspaper. “And if you break through ice, it floats and swims.”

The SUSV comes equipped with soft rubber tracks that allow it to roll through almost any snow conditions, including snow that's soft or deep snow. It can also ride through soft ground, rough terrain and marshes. It can move through the water almost like a big paddleboat, and the vehicle itself floats.

The vehicle weighs just over 9,000 pounds and is about 20 feet long. Made of fiberglass and plastic tubs, it's lightweight for its size. It could transport up to 15 passengers in two heated compartments.

The Ripley Reporter adds that Minnesota National Guard units across the state are preparing for duty as winter storm responders in their support role. With the average snowfall in Minnesota varying from 36 to 70 inches, hazards produced by blizzards, deep snow pack, and freezing rain can put unprepared motorists at risk.

"Our responsibility to the community is to position recovery vehicles and equipment at appropriate facilities, be prepared to provide shelter to stranded motorists, and conduct vehicle/motorist recovery activities," said Sgt. 1st Class Troy McFarland, Operations NCO with the 1st Battalion in Montevideo.

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