Joint MR Foundation Course

For the 6th year since MPSRO Regionally organised Foundation Courses in Mountain Rescue were discontinued, the Bolton MRT and its close geogragphic colleagues in Rossendale and Pendle MRT got together to provide a Joint Foundation Course in Mountain Rescue. As in many previous years this years course also included participation from North East Wales Search and Rescue Team and Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team.

For the second year running the course was held at the excellent venue of the Bolton Scout Districts Bibbys Farm Scout Campsite and Activity Centre, at Heath Charnock nestling in the foothills and reservoirs of the West Pennine Moors.

The fully residential weekend is totally supported by Bolton MRT in terms of exercise venues, exercise casualties, equipment, vehicles and full course catering. (Thanks to the Bolton MRT Support Group)

Garry Rhodes welcomes the students.

The weekend is aimed at new members to MRTs, ie of circa 6 months to 12 months experience, and is intended to cover some subjects not generally covered at a team level, and to consolidate other topics and course members experiences to date. The highly experienced Course Instructors are drawn from all four teams attending, with the Team Leader of Bolton MRT Garry Rhodes acting as the overall course organiser.

Fifteen trainees attended this years course, a much smaller number than usually attend, but this did not detract from an excellent weekend. 8x came from Bolton MRT, 3x from Rossendale and Pendle MRT, 3x from NEWSART, and 1x from Calder Valley SRT. Senior Instructors included the Team Leader of BMRT Garry Rhodes, BMRTs Training Officer Fred Taylor, BMRTs Mike Marsh (Organiser of the MR EW National Party Leaders Course), the Deputy Leader of RPMRT Paul Heywood and the Deputy Leaders of NEWSART Becky Waudby and Hugh Birrell, with Simon Thresher of CVSRT. Other experienced team members from RPMRT and BMRT sweeled the instructors and helpers on site.

The Trainees present were split into four groups each under the tuterlage of an experienced course helper/instructor. Friday evening activities commenced with a DVD of the previous years course to wet appetites followed by a session on Professionalism and the Personal Qualities required of being an MRT member, this being followed by an introductory night time search exercise in the camp site fields, which had a 100% object find success rate. (Which was expected given that the objects were bags of sweets and cans of beer !)

Hangovers cured by an excellent full English breakfast ! (Welsh one for those from NEWSART ?) the early Saturday morning course commenced with a visit by the helicopters of the Greater Manchester Police Air Support Unit, India 99 and the Lancashire Constabulary Air Support Unit, Oscar November 99. (The NWAA Helimed 08 couldn’t attend to make up the threesome !)

India 99 GMP ASU

Oscar November 99 LanCon ASU

Having the two helicopters together gave all present the opportunity to compare the two aircraft types, upon leaving the Lancashire Constabulary ASU kindly flew low over the previous nights search exercise field to try and locate a trainees missing mobile phone, but unfortunately met with the same lack of sucess that a sweep search by foot soldiers resulted in !

Instructors, students & aircrews.

It was then onto a mixture of lectures and presentations covering such topics as Search Techniques (ie how to find a mobilephone in a field !), radio useage, the differences between Upland and lowland Search Operations, MR Stretcher types, lines of responsibility in MR, Basic Life Support and Spinal Immobilisation exercises, (Thanks to BMRT members and A&E Nurse Alistair Greenhough and GMAS Student Technician Paramedic Iain Peel for their fantastic instruction) and spot pick up operations.

Night time search exercise

Did everyone find the beer & chocolate treats …… I think so.

A practical steep ground MR Stretcher carrying exercise then introduced all on the course to the delights of a steep heather cloaked/bramble covered, slippy and mossy underfoot Leicester Mill Quarry, with many a course member sweating profusely under the two hour exercise and wishing the night before had seen a little more caution in the amount of alcohol consumed and an earlier to bed sleep time ! The Saturday evening presentations continued upto 22.30 hours (yep that late) with a fascinating lecture on Forensic Protocols from BMRT Team member Gyles Denn, who is a Forensic Toxicologist and Expert Witness, followed by Andy Simpson, the Team Leader of RPMRT wearing his MR EW Public Relations Officer hat to give a talk on ” What the Mountain Rescue Council does for you. ”
All of this was rounded off by two table-top Search Management exercises based upon actual incidents attended by the Bolton Team, and constituting a lowland search scenerio and an upland moorland search and spot pick up scenerio. (and happily we can report that all 15x trainees present located the casualty positions thereby becoming aspiring search managers !)

Come on get it up and over that big stone.

Push no Pull !!!

Saturday night became Sunday morning, as Boltons Catering Officer Chris Tennant yet again stayed up late to provide the usual toast and cheese early morning “it helps the beer go down ” snacks !

Students dive into the plentiful supplies of food & hot drinks

Sunday morning saw all members depart to the nearby moorland clough of Lead Mines Valley, where round robin exercises consolidated the experiences of the weekend, followed by a ’real time’ call out exercise to the nearby Anglezarke Quarry where the trainees had to deal with two seriously injured ’rock climbers.’

Students working together as a party.

Preparing the casualty for onward transportation.

It was then back to the centre for the course end chats and goodbyes, but not before the entire course was treated to a DVD professionally presented and edited by BMRT Communications Officer Dave Healey covering the whole weekends activities all set to a great sound track. (Thanks to the course photograhers and videoers, Dave himself, Steve Fletcher and Mike Marsh) (Editing of this incidentally went on right upto the course end, which made the end product all the more fantastic) This DVD was very well received and made video stars of many, bringing to a conclusion yet another very sucessful course.

A comprehensive training manual was produced and handed out to all present, with thanks to Bolton member Steve Nelsons company for their sponsorship and copying of this excellent publication. (” wow we even get a presentation pen and memory stick was the comment by all upon receipt.”) All present were presented with a Certificate of Attendance at the Course end, perhaps next year Garry the Course Organiser might remember to sign them first though !

Thanks must go to three young Scouts George, Joe and Max who not only allowed themselves to become the exercise casualties for all the outdoor sessions (along of course with Georges sister Liana and her friend Lucy) but also did most of the washing up on the course after every meal. They also provided much entertainment as only two 13 year olds and an eleven year old can do ! besides giving us an unrepeatable nickname for Course Instructor Mike Marsh.

Thanks also to Tina Tennant, Gillian Gregory, Dave Sawyer and Carolyn Sawyer for all their Catering support under Head Chef and Boss Man in the Kitchen BMRT Catering Officer Chris Tennant. (” theres a second helping if anybody wants it. “)

And the highlights of the Course………
well there was Trainee member Steve Williamsons drunken tales of sleeping with a tramp ( you had to be there ) alongside his night time sartorial elegence of wearing his pyjama bottoms in combination with his Keela Munro top ! (again you had to be there)

Well here are the pyjamas…..

and of cousre a certain RPMRT member who decided that the best way to avoid a hangover was not to go to sleep at all !
Then there was Jenny “only two pieces of jam pudding” Handley and that bottle of whisky, ” it’s all gone now what can I drink next !”
Lastly, the competition for finding a new pillow was won by Dave Healey and BMRT’s drugs kit ’best nights sleep I had’ or was it the Vodka Dave !!

Next years course at the same venue, and hopefully the same cost of £40.00 all inclusive, will be held over the weekend of Friday 12th to Sunday 14th October 2007.

If any member of any MRT other than the usual attending teams are also interested in attending this well established course (With a history going back to the MPSRO Courses which started in 1982, and a format which has been constantly developed since) then please contact Bolton MRT Team Leader Garry Rhodes on for details of booking onto the 2007 Course.