Incident 121/2008

With a very heavy snowfall forecasted for the Greater Manchester and Lancashire areas during the early hours of this morning, the North West Ambulance Service had requested MRTs in Lancashire and Greater Manchester to go to standby status overnight in case of need, to avoid the problems of team members themselves getting stuck in snow trying to reach MRT vehicle bases.

Bolton MRT, Rossendale and Pendle MRT and Oldham MRT all put contingency plans in operation, which in our case involved pre placing three team Landrover Mountain Rescue Ambulances at team members houses in the Wigan, Swinton and Bolton areas, and preparing a rota of team members to be immediately available.
As the early hours of the morning progressed, the snow started to fall, but very quickly in the Bolton area turned to heavy sleet mixed with rain and windy conditions.

At 03.05hrs our Team Leader was directly contacted by NWAS (Manchester) ECC to mobilise the team to the Top o’ th’ Brow housing estate in Bolton, where an Emergency Ambulance was stuck on an icy snowbound road with a 4 year old child on board trying to get to hospital.

Our Team Leader directly called out team members crewing our BM1 and BM2 vehicles to respond to this incident, along with our Team Leader and Deputy Leader.

GMP also responded to this incident with a 4WD Traffic BMW, but were unable to assist the Ambulance on the very slippy road surface.

Our BM1 vehicle arrived first, to find out thankfully that the child had been transferred to another Ambulance, and had been taken safely to hospital, so jointly with GMP (2x other Police Officers had arrived) attempted to recover the Ambulance.

Our BM1 vehicle was fitted up with snow chains, (which we carry on board all our vehicles in winter) and easily accessed the Ambulances location, however by carefully reversing the Ambulance, (it was on a steep section of road on the housing estate, cars parked nearby and ice / snow all around) after some time the Ambulance reached a flatter section of road, and with better traction was able to depart.

Our 6x team members present left the scene to catch up on sleep, getting home around 05.00hrs.

By now it was clear that the heavy snow forecasted was now likely to be continuing sleet and heavy rainfall, at least in this part of Greater Manchester, and so it was thought no more calls would occur. (see Incident 122 and 123, never try to 2nd guess in a Mountain Rescue Team!)