Feb 4 2007
Today five Team members journeyed to Winsford, Cheshire, after taking up the invitation to take full participation in the practical part of the ATACC MERIT course.
The ATACC MERIT course is a brand new Anaesthesia Trauma & Critical Care course with a major incident slant, developed specifically for NHS Teams. Taking part in this course were a large number of Nurses & Doctors from the Dorset Hospital Trust, alongside the hosts for the weekend, Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service.
Below is an excellent account of the days proceedings by our Team member Laura Millichamp.
On Sunday 4th February, five team members (Andrew Livesey, Laura Millichamp, John Parish, Chris Tennant and Steve Williamson) participated in the Anaesthetic Trauma and Critical Care (ATACC) Course, training with Doctors & Nurses from Dorset Hospital Trust (NHS MERIT Team), Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service personnel and another BMRT member, Alistair Greenough taking part in his capacity as an A&E Nurse. Leaving our base at Ladybridge Hall at 06:45 Hrs(….on a Sunday??!), we arrived at Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service HQ in Winsford, where the exercise was based. We were faced with three real time scenarios, where our role was exactly the same as in real life; in this case as a Mountain Rescue Team being called to give support to a ’Major Incident’, but additionally to utilise our Casualty Care skills and the experience our team has in responding to 999 calls as a result of our excellent working relationship with the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).
During designation of roles and responsibilities, one of our team members (not the woman by the way) took the opportunity to drive the “ATACC Rescue 1” rapid response vehicle following admission of not yet having a driving license “so they can’t endorse it when I crash or get done for speeding” and some difficulty in understanding the operation of manual foot controls….”brake, clutch, accelerator?” “does this vehicle have something called a handbrake?” “what does this round thing in front of the driver do?” which almost provided our first casualty for the day….a very shaken vehicle owner.
A multiple vehicle motorway RTC including a chemical spill was our first incident. We transported the casualties in our BM2 vehicle attending, to a simulated A and E department for treatment and became directly involved in the care of the walking wounded and the extrication of more seriously injuried casualties following emergency medical treatment working alongside the Nurses, Doctors & Fire Service.
Following a fantastic lunch, we then found our MR skills and our specialist equipment really coming into their own in the second scenario where approximately 15 people including children and a pregnant woman were trapped in a network of small tunnels following a roof collapse. We facilitated a smooth and efficient evacuation of casualties from this confined space using a quick rescue stretcher and drag ropes, whilst the Medics operated triage system to prioritise patients for evacuation. The Fire Service ensured their skills were not overlooked by partially flooding the tunnel with very cold water (to prevent that post lunch doze!) adding to the realism of the situation. (and a very soaked wet through John Parish & Steve Williamson – that part was real !)
The final scenario was a house fire, where we operated as an ambulance service, and also as ambulance control, providing a liaison point for all emergency services. We also assisted with the evacuation and triage of casualties using our stretcher-carrying and casualty care skills.
Overall, the day provided us with an excellent insight into the workings of a Major Incident and the opportunity to work with Doctors and Nurses who were new to Emergency trauma care in a ’field’ situation. It also introduced the skills and knowledge of Mountain Rescue Teams to Fire and Medical personnel not yet accustomed to working with us.
We would like to thank the organisers for inviting us to participate in such a well organised, useful and rewarding day. Also, the owner of “Rescue 1” for believing the wind up that one of our members couldn’t drive and still handing him the keys to a smart, new vehicle. (They had that much faith in us !)
The ATACC team who organised this course have worked with our team on many a recent exercise and training session, bringing along on two occasions their SIM MAN casualty training mannikin. Readers of our website in its earlier years will recall that we also worked operationally alongside ATACC on the M2002 Commonwealth Games. The Team is grateful to ATACC for inviting us to this
exciting exercise and looks forward to continuing our excellent relationship and friendships.