When the desert becomes a trap

Operations with the tugging winch vehicle in Saudi Arabia

Whoever hears the words "Saudi Arabia" probably thinks of endless deserts, oil wells, and camels - and a lack of rain. However, floods are frequently an especially big challenge for the National Civil Defense Organization. To deal with this, the emergency services rely on the power of the tugging winch vehicle. Two powerful winches, a crane, and the off-road capability of vehicle ensure that difficult tasks in the desert are mastered.


60,000 men and 5,500 vehicles divided between about 600 fire stations are responsible for fire and civil defense in Saudi Arabia. A large part of the 2.1 million km2 land area is desert - and that is also a major challenge in many operations. Even in dryness, desert sand is a tricky surface. When it rains, the sand transforms into an almost impenetrable mud. Through climate change, the Arabian Peninsula has also become increasingly affected by heavy rains in recent years. In the last six years it has rained as much as in the previous 50 years. After rainfalls like these, large-scale flooding is always inevitable. The civil defense has prepared for these disasters: for human rescue, more than 1,000 Zodiac lifeboats are stationed, mainly inland. Cars, trucks, and everything else that gets stuck in the mud is pulled out by the heavy duty recovery vehicles after the waters have receded.

Supreme off-road mobility

The tugging winch recovery vehicle by Rosenbauer is well prepared for this challenge: the 8x8 all-wheel drive and the extra-wide road tires ensure torque in rough terrain. Where other vehicles reach their limits, the 400 hp of the Mercedes-Benz engine still provide dynamic propulsion. And that is exactly what these kinds of operations need. If trucks and vehicles must be pulled out of the mud, then the heavy duty recovery vehicles prove their advantages.


With the tugging winch vehicle, even heavyweights can be rescued from difficult situations. 30 t and 20 t pulling capacity winches, in combination with the massive lift arm can move extremely heavy vehicles such as trucks. The 15 m Palfinger crane additionally expands the application possibilities of the vehicle. For the civil defense, the tugging winch vehicle has proven itself so well that 150 of these vehicles are already in use, and 88 more are on order.

From vehicle recovery to camel rescue

Beside large scale operations after floods, the tugging winch vehicle also shows its worth in many everyday operations. Time and again, things or people fall into natural or man-made wells. Several times, these vehicles have also been called out for camels. These "ships of the desert" often fall through the floors of old, desolate buildings and land in the underlying waste water tanks or cisterns. Thanks to the traction of the tugging winch vehicle, many animals have been saved. With the heavy duty recovery vehicle, the civil defense has a versatile all-terrain vehicle available which masters the toughest jobs in heat, dust, and mud.