Last weekend saw potential mountain rescuers from all over Lancashire and Yorkshire, and lowland rescuers from Cheshire and Norfolk, put through their paces during the annual Mountain Rescue Foundation Course.
Hosted by Bolton Mountain Rescue Team (MRT), the course was held at Bibby’s Farm Scout Camp, in the West Pennine Moors and 42 men and women, including ten from Rossendale & Pendle Mountain Rescue Team, learned stretcher handling techniques, steep ground evacuation and rope rescue. In addition there were lectures and displays by Greater Manchester Police, North West Ambulance Service, Greater Manchester Fire Service, Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service and appearances by the Lancashire Police and Air Ambulance helicopters.
Team Leader, Pete Goble, said: “Our trainees have been with us for about six months now and it was great to see them putting what they’ve learned in that time to practical use. The whole weekend was not just informative but allowed the trainees to learn about ‘hands on’ mountain rescue and meet colleagues from other teams and the emergency services who, no doubt, they will be working with in the future in real rescue situations.”
The weekend summed up by one of our Trainees:
Foundation Weekend – Class of 2013
Just over a week ago saw nine of Rossendale’s finest attend the annual Foundation Weekend, organised by Bolton MRT. This year was their highest attended event to date with over forty trainees from Bolton, Cheshire, Calder Valley, NE Wales and Norfolk teams.
Fri 11-10-13 18:00hrs…..Arrived at Bibby’s farm and unloaded our gear into dorms and before the first brew was supped we headed upstairs straight into the course introduction and lectures. We were all split up into six different teams with a mixture of all the different rescue teams in each.
Next up was a night time search exercise in the surrounding fields (after previously searching for Rons Harribo sweets, cans of beer was no problem for us!) and then it was back to the canteen, oh, and Matt’s pickup which was fortuitously stocked better than the local bargain booze, for supper followed by an “intensive team bonding session” lasting many many hours.
Most of the other teams (sensibly??) retired to their dorms in the early hours but Rossendale and Bolton chewed the fat until dawn arrived.
Sat 12-10-13 07:00hrs…..Breakfast passed in a blur (literally for some!) and then it was upstairs again for some informative guest speakers, although it did seem that some members of other teams didn’t find it that interesting (zzzzz).
Sat 12-10-13 10:00hrs…..Remainder of the morning was spent, thankfully, outside meeting members of the emergency services (fire, police, USAR, HART amongst others) and finding out how they use and value the support the mountain rescue teams offer them.
Sat 12-10-13 13:00hrs…..Afternoon exercise in Noon gully on stretcher carrying on rough ground (those hours spent with Ron assembling and carrying stretchers and snake belays certainly paid off).
Sat 12-10-13 18:00hrs…..Back to the farm for lectures and a talk by BMRT dog handler Dave Marsh who tearfully told us of a tragic gardening accident to his search dog Chi. Fortunately his tale ended on a brighter note and we headed down for tea, which was then followed by a table top search exercise, interestingly based upon two real searches that BMRT had assisted in.
After this the traditional games/drinking began (including, the by-now, regular visit to Matt’s pickup). Our very own tree-master Gary held his own in the cornflake box game but was up against stiff competition in ‘Yoda’, ‘Too-Tall’ and eventual and worthy winner Jess. Not deterred, Gary triumphed in the tin of beans challenge. Many tried and some succeeded in the table top traverse, some tried and few succeeded in the broom challenge, although it was hilarious so see our Lizzie near dislocating both her wrists trying. The games were topped off though when our man-mountain Matt took on Bolton’s Dr Dick in a wrestling challenge “to the death” (well, nearly). Needless to say our teams integrity was once again left untouched.
Sun 13-10-13 07:00hrs…..Breakfast enjoyed by all (lesson learnt!) followed by equipment demonstration and a flying visit from the NW Air ambulance. The afternoon was dedicated to six real time scenarios which would test our teamwork and skills gained from the previous two days. Each team would nominate a party leader, CAS care, comms and a navigation person and would attend the six different stations which would test our mettle on searches and various first aid casualty treatments. We all got our turn so could put ourselves to the test.
I can’t speak for the other teams but I know the training we have had to date certainly covered all the bases and I believe RPMRT handled ourselves really well in these scenarios, so I guess most of that training has sunk in somewhere.
Big thanks must go to Ron and Lizzie who as our mentors gave us the support and encouragement we needed that weekend.
Sun 13-10-13 15:00hrs…..Back for course debrief, awards and the tidy up lotto (my group didn’t get the loos, Get in!!).
To sum up, it was a full on weekend (as promised), late nights (nobody mentioned that did they?!) with a great opportunity to meet other teams and see how they do things and for us to impart a bit of the training we have had so far. I know we all had a great time and also really enjoyed the practical side of the weekend.
p.s. can I sleep now?……. PLEASE!!!!