UK Mountain Rescue Conference 2006

Four Bolton MRT team members attended this year’s bi-annual UK Mountain Rescue Conference, held at the excellent venue of Lancaster University.

For our Team Leader Garry Rhodes this was his 19th MR Conference attended, with team members Craig Lamb, Dave Sarti and Chris Tennant all having attended recent conferences. In addition Bolton MRT call out list member (and our Communications Officer) Dave Healey attended as a support staff member, lending his IT and professional skills in sound and vision, alongside other members of the Conference technical support team, to the smooth running of the Conference.

Ex-team member Diane Blakeley was also on the Conference support staff, as was ex-team member and ex-SARDA handler Paul Baxendale, who was a guest presenter.

Over 300 persons attended the Conference, predominately from teams in Mountain Rescue England and Wales, the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland and the Irish Mountain Rescue Association (representing the interests of Mountain Rescue in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland). There was also strong representation from members of our sister organisation ALSAR (The Association of Lowland Search and Rescue), as well as the Royal Air Force and various Police Officers with an interest in Search and Rescue.

The Conference was opened with a guest address from Chief Superintendent Gary Stephenson of Lancashire Constabulary, following which the President of Mountain Rescue England and Wales presented Distinguished Service Awards to Eve Burton (Buxton MRT), David Little (ex-MRC Treasurer and Cleveland SRT) and Peter Durst (Rossendale and Pendle MRT and SARDA). Our team would like to express its particular congratulations to Peter Durst, for the help he has given us over the years, his operational support when he was a serving Dog Handler, and for his work in the MPSRO (and MPMAP before this).

Various very interesting seminars and presentations occurred throughout the conference following four main tracks or themes, including water related issues (Boscastle, Flooding in North Wales, The Carlisle Floods, and Hurricane Katrina), medical issues including the launch of the NESRA Casualty Care Course Training Package, Technical equipment and systems, media training, ALSAR, Cave Rescue Operations, Legal issues and particular ’incident profiles’ of Ben Lomond, Sharp Edge, Tryfan, rescue in the Dark Peak moorlands, and presentations by IMRA.

Our four attendees tried to get to as many of the varied presentations as our representation at this year’s conference allowed, and have come away buzzing with ideas, new contacts and awareness of what’s happening beyond our team’s own boundaries.
An excellent evening presentation was given by acclaimed climber and mountaineer Andy Cave, from the crags of the Peak District via the North Face of the Eiger (aged 20!) to Changabang and Mount Kennedy.

This was followed by the usual raffle, where equally as usual we won a collective nothing for the n’th year running!

The usual high standards of organisation and catering we have come to expect, wherever the venue, were met again this year, and thanks for a successful conference go out to all who were involved in it’s organisation. (’Goody Bag’-wise, i.e. freebies, were thin on the ground this year – so how come our Team Leader missed out on the free KEELA bags? Well we are mountain rescuers and we should never miss a trick!)

The Mountain Rescue Conference is recommended to all, the next conference is in Scotland in 2008, where we will be celebrating 75 years of Mountain Rescue in the UK.

Finally a special thank you to those involved in the production of the introductory film, and the end of conference slide show, both were excellent and struck the right cord. Congratulations on your excellent efforts.