Mountain Rescue (England and Wales) Annual Team Leaders Day

Today our Team Leader of near twenty years in office, Garry Rhodes MBE, attended the annual MR (E&W) Team Leaders day, hosted this year by our colleagues in Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team at their Garstang vehicle and training base.

Attracting Team Leaders, Deputy Leaders and other senior team members from across England and Wales, teams represented included Scarborough and Rydale MRT, Swaledale MRT, Kinder MRT, NEWSAR, Bolton MRT, Bowland Pennine MRT, Rossendale and Pendle MRT, Ogwen Valley MRO, SARDA Wales, Keswick MRT, Langdale and Ambleside MRT, Wasdale MRT, Cleveland MRT, Llanberis MRT, Upper Wharfedale FRA, Penrith MRT, Teesdale and Weardale SMRT, COMRU, Derby MRT, Kirkby Stephen MSRT and Oldham MRT.

Members of our national representative body, the Mountain Rescue (England and Wales) Council also attended, including our National Chairman David Allan FRCS, Honorary Vice Chairman Tony Jones MBE, Honorary Secretary (and very good and long standing friend of our team) Peter Smith, Mountain Rescue Magazine Editor Judy Whiteside, Honorary Medical Officer Doctor John Ellerton and currently joint Honorary Equipment Officer and Honorary National Training Officer Mike Margeson. (also Team Leader of the Duddon and Furness MRT.)

The whole day was run under the excellent session chairmanship of Phil O’ Brien, Team Leader of Bowland Pennine MRT, who commenced the days proceedings with an introduction to the day and a profile session on BPMRT.

Lindsey Cowen, an Emergency Planning Officer with the Emergency Planning Unit of Cumbria County Council gave an overview of Gold and Silver Command approaches within Cumbria County Council Emergency Planning, linked to the statutory duties under Civil Contingencies of Local and County authorities.

Doctor John Ellerton then gave a presentation on the national MR (E&W) Pain Relief Audit, which our team is supplying data alongside other MRTs.

An interesting account of the tragic RAF Puma helicopter crash attended by the Swaledale MRT in August 2007, was given by Doctor William Lumb of Swaledale MRT. This aircraft crash occurred almost next to a Swaledale MRT evening exercise, with the Swaledale team playing a central and major role in dealing with this multi casualty incident which unfortunately involved two fatalities alongside some very seriously injured soldiers and airmen. (for more information on this incident see the website of Swaledale MRT.)

Mike Margeson was next on with the results of the national (England and Wales) mountain rescue stretcher survey, the start of finding a replacement for the now out of production Bell Mountain Rescue Stretcher whilst complimenting other stretcher designs still in production. (ie the SAR Alpine / Alphin.)

Tom Taylor of the RAF ARCCK Kinloss, gave an interesting presentation on the latest news around Personal Locator Beacons, and he should know as his job is monitoring such, including aircraft and maritime beacons and then setting in motion the national and / or international response to activated beacons.

Iain Nicholson of BPMRT and SARDA Wales, then outlined the use of his dog ’Mij’ in some recent search operations. ’Mij’ is one of only two ’Trailing Dogs’ operating within UK Mountain Rescue. (as opposed to the more familiar air scenting Mountain Rescue Search and Rescue Dogs) One of the case examples illustrated by Iain was a search conducted by ourselves in Hindley this year when we called on the services of Iain and Mij, Mij successfully finding the missing woman very soon after deployment.

Detective Constable Tim Bird of North Wales Police, who is also a member of Ogwen Valley MRO and has a Mountain Instructors Certificate, then outlined the protocol for dealing with fatal incidents, as agreed between the North Wales MRTs and North Wales Police. (which is not too dissimilar to the protocols we have in place within our team.)

The last session of the day was presented by Mark Hodgson, Team Leader Keswick MRT, entitled “Is it worth searching at night?” (with reference to mountain searches rather than vulnerable missing from home type searches.)

The day was closed as it was opened, by Phil O’ Brien, Team Leader of Bowland Pennine MRT.

It remains to thank the catering team from Bowland Pennine MRT who provided hot drinks during the morning and afternoon breaks and an excellent hot and cold buffet at lunchtime.

Next years Team Leaders Day is provisionally being hosted by Swaledale MRT in December 2009.