Joint Foundation Course in Mountain Rescue

With a history stretching back from 1982-1999, when such courses were held and organised annually by our regional body the MPSRO, this year’s Joint Foundation Course had its current origins with Bolton MRT and Rossendale & Pendle MRT combining to provide such a course, as now the regional provision of such no longer occurs – instructors from the two teams mentioned, who had a long association with the MPSRO course “as was”, wished to continue its success. Both teams successfully mounted courses in 2000, 2002 and 2003, with other teams being invited along on what has become a regular basis.

The Joint Foundation Course in Mountain Rescue consists of a residential weekend, aimed (not exclusively) at those team members with between 6 months to 18 months MRT experience, and serves to consolidate such experience by a well proven lecture and practical exercise format, utilising the services of a cadre of very experienced and enthusiastic instructors. This year’s course was held over the weekend of Friday October 21st to Sunday October 23rd, 2005, at the excellent venue of the Bolton Scout Trust’s brand new Bibby’s Farm Scout Campsite and Activity Centre, located at Heath Charnock, Lancashire.
Trainees from Bolton MRT (6), Rossendale & Pendle MRT (4), Calder Valley SRT (2) and NEWSART (9) attended, with instructors drawn from all four teams, whilst the Bolton MRT provided full logistical support for the course throughout the weekend.

The candidates prepare for the weekend ahead

Topics covered over the weekend included professionalism and personal requirements in MR, CPR and Casualty Care “primary survey” practicals, lines of responsibilities in MR, the differences between lowland and upland SAR operations, MR stretcher types, search theory and techniques, radio usage, spot pick-up operations, and search planning exercises. All involved much active group participation. Outdoor practical scenarios, in the immediately adjacent local West Pennine Moorlands, built upon the indoor sessions and introduced steep ground working and exercise round robins.

The first practical exercise of the weekend – a search exercise within the campsite grounds on Friday night

An evening lecture rounds off the first night of the course

Saturday morning practical lectures – BMRT member Pete McKale demonstrates the fitment of cervical collars

BMRT member Alistair Greenough instructs CPR techniques

The groups are brought to Leicester Mill quarry to try their hand at steep ground maneuvers

This stretcher party doesn’t know wether they’re coming or going!

Special mentions must be made of the NWAA Helimed 08 involvement for over 2 hours on Saturday morning, only leaving when they attended a motorway RTC barely 2 minutes flying time away, such was the interest (from both sides) present (or was it the copious amounts of tea and bacon butties on offer to the air crew that kept them for so long at this venue?).

The candidates eagerly await the arrival of NWAA Helimed 08

Helimed crew demonstrate the capabilities of the aircraft

An interesting evening lecture on how the Ambulance Service views MR and what their expectations are, came courtesy of an ex-GMAS Paramedic Emergency Control despatcher (now serving on GMAS ambulances herself), and a GMAS Technician Paramedic. It turns out we’ve got it right here in Greater Manchester. A wider view of MR came from the MRC’s Press and Publicity Officer, Andy Simpson, who presented an excellent overview on “What the Executive MRC Council does for you”. This too generated widespread interest.

Saturday is rounded off with a “tabletop” search exercise

Absolutely atrocious wet weather met the Sunday morning round robin moorland based scenarios, with some excellent and all too convincing play acting from the exercise casualties, who braved both the weather, and the investigative prods of the various trainee groups!

This party is faced with a “difficult extrication” problem – the exercise casualty is just out of shot – but has fallen approx 10″ into a small well!

A Sunday morning moorland search exercise – just the ticket for stretching your legs!

Catering was provided throughout (almost on demand) by Bolton MRT’s Catering Officer and Bolton MRT’s Support Group members. Toast, cheese butties and eggy bread was still being offered at 02.30 in the early hours of Sunday morning (it helped wash down the beer).

Along with BMRT Catering Officer Chris Tennant, members of the Bolton MRT Support Group provided some excellent catering over the entire weekend.

The whole course was sponsored by Batemans Breweries of Lincolnshire, who very kindly supplied 120 bottles of their excellent Combined Harvester Ale, and a large barrel of the same, and given the historical nature of the weekend, a large barrel of their special Victory Ale. (brewed to celebrate our victory at Trafalgar). With so much ale, including our own supplies, about, and unlike the MR Conferences the pumps never ran dry! (Despite the best efforts of NEWSART!)

After a few pints some of the BMRT staff went all giddy…

A very comprehensive Training Manual was presented to all participants, along with other instructional material. (thanks to those at Bolton MRT who slaved over the photocopier for a full day to produce such). The course concluded with a presentation of Certificates of Attendance, following which the Bolton MRT techies who had been following the entire course with digital cameras (they even got Helimed to provide their in flight photographs) presented an excellent slideshow (hastily edited) of the entire weekend.

The final comments must go to this selection of end of course debrief comments from the four groups of trainees taking part.

  • “Improved awareness of team disciplines and how they evolve within a small group, from a group of strangers, in the space of 2 days we became a cohesive team.”
  • “Interchange of ideas helps develop your knowledge base, and can contribute to the future development of the individual teams.”
  • “Accommodation good, informative and enjoyable with good team cross bonding.”
  • “Excellent organisation from the instructors.”
  • “Tiring but rewarding, lots of experience gained, with excellent casualty care instruction.”
  • “Increased our confidence.”
  • “NEWSART 2005 Foundation Course drinking champions!”
  • “Great location and well planned exercises, hard work but very rewarding.”
  • “Good to work with other teams, mentoring system worked really well.”
  • “We enjoyed the Maltesers trick!”
  • “Fan-flipin-tastic.”
  • “Well done the exercise casualties.”
  • “Very comprehensive and well paced, very well structured.”
  • “Excellent facility and food, interesting interaction and ideas from other teams.”
  • “Good review of equipment and its uses, and lessons in the compromise between speed and safety.”
  • “Nice to see MR from a casualty perspective.”

After a successful weekend the candidates & staff finally finish the course!

The total course cost per trainee attending was £37.00, inclusive of on course transportation, all catering including lunches, and of course the excellent accommodation. Special thanks are extended to all the instructors and helpers who freely gave of their time and experience, to Helimed 08, Batemans Breweries, and to the on site staff of Bibby’s Farm Scout and Activity Centre, who not only put up with the course but were co-opted to join in as exercise casualties.

Next year’s course is set for the weekend of October 20th to October 22nd 2006, at the same venue, with participation expected from all four teams who took part this year. There are always some places available for others who may wish to take part, please contact the Team Leader via the contact page.