Mountain Rescue England and Wales Party Leadership Course 2009 – The Delegates Perspective

Friday started of with the usual panic when attending a full weekend course, with both Elaine Gilliland and Paul Brain asking: – have we got everything we need? (wet weather clothing – check, midge spray – check, alcohol – check), how long will it take us to get there (better leave early)?, do we have enough knowledge?

Well the panic was unfounded…..On arriving at Hebden Hey early evening on Friday, we were greeted by some early arrivals who offered a welcome brew, biscuits and the start of the continuous giggles that ensued throughout the weekend.

Friday evening was an overview of the weekend with introductions to lecturers, mentors and other participants and two lectures on expectations of the police and the importance of giving structured briefings to get us into the swing of things, (starting to relax already). After an interesting overview and feeling fully informed, we ventured to the local watering hole, the Blue Pig, with instruction to network and socialise which most did with enthusiasm.
Saturday started slightly bleary eyed but bushy tailed as all were keen to ‘get on with it’.

After a hearty breakfast provided by the excellent catering staff we were divided into two sections of three groups, groups 1, 2 and 3 having lectures and discussion on specific Fell Party Leader areas, using a 5 man party, 5 common injuries and casualty site management. Groups 4, 5 and 6 ventured outside to undertake practical Party Leader management and stretcher handling techniques. After a rapid refreshment break the sections swapped around.
In both areas, a vast amount of information and advice was given by lecturers and mentors to develop the skills of all participants.

Lunch was served back at base and socialising resumed for a short time before we congregated back in the lecture area for further lectures in Action & Preserving a scene (with former experienced Bolton Mountain Rescue Call out member Gyles Denn) and Bankside Water Safety. This proved invaluable for the next part of the course – six round-robin exercises where we all took our turns as party leader and practised our recently acquired knowledge and skills.

Three further lectures on Triage, crime scene debrief and post traumatic stress – with an evening meal break in between – left us physically and mentally shattered but full of information to practise the next day. The rest of the evening was spent ‘networking and socialising’ once more.

Sunday morning we arose a little more bleary eyed and a little less bushy tailed but again enthusiastic to put our new knowledge into practise and we didn’t have long to wait. After another fantastic breakfast (cannot praise the catering staff enough), we were out on the hill where we spent the full morning on practical party leadership exercises, coming across a series of mock incidents, from a quad bike accident to a man in a dress on a bike!

This is where it all came together! Realistic casualty sites gave each individual the ability to practise all of the skills that we had learnt not only on the weekend, but our experience from team training too. Everybody had the chance to participate in all areas of skills required on the hill, but the specific party leadership skills proved to be invaluable. Constructive feedback was supplied by very experienced mentors and we soaked up the information given.

Finally, we had a course debrief and feedback session with an opportunity to give our own feedback on the course as a whole after which we said our goodbyes to new acquaintances and made our way home.

Both Elaine and Paul would like to thank all the organisers, instructors, mentors, catering staff, casualties, Yorkshire Air Ambulance and fellow delegates for giving us the fabulous opportunity to learn, acquire new skills and meet a group of very interesting and experienced people. It was an absolutely invaluable experience and we would do it again tomorrow (maybe next week when we are fully recovered…)

For an introduction to this course please refer to the article dated Friday 17th July 2009.