Joint Exercise with Cheshire LSART

Today the team reciprocated the Joint Exercise we were invited to attend in Cheshire organised by Cheshire Lowland Search and Rescue Team, back in late August this year by inviting Cheshire LSART to an exercise this evening in our team area. 32 current Bolton MRT members and one member of our Support Group assembled at the Knowle house Car Park RVP in Lever Park, Rivington, to meet up with 9 members of Cheshire LSART., for an exercise commencing at 19.15hrs. in the early evening.

A gaggle of volunteers (including some ’regulars’) were placed in various exercise scenerios around Lever Park, Lower Rivington Reservoir and around the replica of Liverpool Castle in Lever Park. Under the control and direction of the Bolton Team Leader Garry Rhodes and team member Mark Scott opearting from within our Control Trailer, all the participants were split into four groups (mixing up the team members from Bolton and Cheshire) and sent off to deal with their allocated exercise incidents.

One group deployed with a Bolton MRT Canoe and Kayak, (Deputy Leader Geoff Seddon and Ged Clarke) from our Canoe and Kayak Unit to undertake a search and recovery exercise on the shoreline of Lower Rivington Reservoir, backed up by a shore party, appropriately equipped with PFDs (life jackets) and throw lines.
Another group dealt with a Quad Bike accident, with thanks to team member Andrew Ryding for the supply of his companys Quad Bike for extra realism.
Meanwhile another group were engaged in a (it was night time remember) Mountain Bike search of the bridle path network in Lever Park for the “report of a person having fallen out of a tree !”

This involved Bolton team members Steve Fletcher and Jonathan Holt carrying out a fast search of the paths using their Mountain Bikes suitably adorned with powerful lighting. The last group had to deal with a concentrated and intense search exercise to locate ’abandoned babies.’ (unexpectedly coming across the distraut ’mother’ as well). All the aims of the various exercises were met and all had a good time, with thanks to the exercise organisers Bolton MRT Training Officer Fred Taylor, and Bolton MRT long term team member Andrew Ryding.

During the exercise two ex team members (perhaps realising having recently left the team for short periods away that they couldn’t in fact keep away) came along and joined in, along with a passing Lancashire Constabulary Area Patrol vehicle, which included the on duty Sergeant. We also had a guest observer from United Utilities, the land owner who so readily allows us to exercise upon their extensive land holdings in our team upland area, he was most impressed with proceedings, particularly the Canoe and Kayak unit.

The end of the exercise saw all involved gathered around our Catering Trailer for a variety of hot food (vegetarian and meat dishes available) prepared by our Catering Officer (and call out list member) Chris Tennant and his wife Tina Tennant, a member of our Support Group. Unbeknown to most members attending it was Chris and Tinas Wedding Anniversary, the celebrations of which they had put on hold until tomorrow. (Congratulations Chris and Tina)
Two photographers from Lancashire and Cheshire Photographic Society were also on hand to record proceedings, giving them a somewhat unique photographic opportunity.

All in all a good night, except for the fact that when our Team Leader, Garry Rhodes, a non veggie meat eater came to collect his hot meal all the meat sausages had been snaffled leaving him looking very displeased with a bowl of meatless pasta and veggies ! (increasing age means he’s not as fast in the food queues as he used to be !)

Finally as a side note organisers Fred and Andy had spent alot of time setting this exercise up, so how do you think they viewed our Team Leaders phone call to them both just before the start of the exercise “that there was a possibility we may be called to an urgent search deveoping for a very young missing child in Lancashire, so just put a hold on things for a short while!” (Thankfully the child turned up and our services were not required, with Fred and Andy breathing a sigh of relieve that their well planned exercise could go ahead after all !)