Incident 67/2009

At 18:35 this evening the team was contacted by Greater Manchester Police regarding a major multi-agency search and rescue operation which was in its early stages, for a young boy reported missing in a body of water in the Trafford area of Manchester.

A full team pager call was initiated at 18:40 by which time the rendezvous point had been determined in the vicinity of the Chill Factore Ski Centre, Manchester.

Our first member Alan James arrived on scene at 18:50, closely followed by our Team Leader Garry Rhodes at 18:55, who immediately took on the responsibility of Mountain Rescue Incident Manager.

They both arrived to meet a major Police, Fire and Ambulance search and rescue operation which was gaining steady momentum, based around the initial 999 reports of 4 children in water, with 3 of the children having been safely accounted for by the time Alan and Garry arrived on scene.

The GMP Air Support Unit helicopter had previously hovered over the water body where the 11 year old boy had disappeared under the surface – the helicopter was trying to locate the child using its on-board thermal imaging camera.

GMF&RS personnel worked alongside GMP officers in carrying out a search of the water margins, including members of GMFRS Water Incident Unit entering the shallower parts of the water body.

Bolton MRT members and our 4 team Landrovers continued to arrive over the next 15 minutes, joining other emergency resources parked along Trafford Way opposite the Chill Factore in the Dumplington area of Trafford.

In liaison with the Police officers in charge on scene, team members redeployed to the Barton Embankment area opposite the David Lloyd leisure centre with all the GMFRS resources on scene being stood down and leaving the scene.

Team members were deployed in three main groups to undertake different taskings. One group conducted a search of the wooded margins and open grassland around the water body, to discount the possibility of the child having left the water and then collapsing on open ground.

Team members begin an on-land search of the surrounding area
A second group was deployed to setup our Mountain Rescue control trailer and associated facilities, whilst a third group which included members of our Kayak and Canoe water search unit was deployed onto the water body.

The team’s Canoe and Kayak Water Search Unit begins a meticulous search of the place that the boy was last seen

Joining us in the open ground search was SARDA Dog handler Alison Nicholson with her Search Dog Floss, who had been called to assist from their home team of Bowland Pennine MRT.

At this stage in the proceedings, ambulance personnel on scene were joined by the main resources of the NWAS (Manchester) HART (Hazardous Area Rescue Team) and USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) specialist ambulance response units.

The actual search of the water body by our team commenced at 20:07, with our Deputy Team Leader Geoff Seddon and colleague team member Ged Clarke deployed in an open canoe, backed up by a bankside safety team of three MRT water search & rescue trained personnel (Steve Fletcher, Fred Taylor and Andy Kench).

With time passing, and the search likely to become prolonged, a small group of Bolton MRT team members were despatched to return back to our Ladybridge Hall base to collect our Catering trailer and Aireshelta tent.

By this time a request had also been made for the services of the Police Underwater Search Unit, with one of their members already on scene to offer advice whilst awaiting her colleagues’ arrival.

During the process of our methodical search of the water body, at 20:30 Canoe member Geoff Seddon successfully located the body of the 11 year old boy at a approximate depth of 8 feet, and in a very quick coordinated action the boy was recovered to the bankside where immediate advanced medical care was commenced by NWAS (Manchester) resources, primarily the HART/USAR team members.

Intense advanced recusitation efforts continued during the stretcher evacuation of the boy from the waterside to the NWAS Emergency Ambulance, continuing en-route to Salford (Hope) Hospital.

Team Doctor Claire Whitney assisted the NWAS personnel in the advanced medical care treatment of the 11 year old boy and journeyed with NWAS personnel in the ambulance as part of a four person resusitation team during the journey to hospital.

Meanwhile back at the incident location, with the onset of darkness, team members provided a large amount of portable lighting to assist Police officers in photographing the scene.

At the conclusion of this incident, our Team Leader Garry Rhodes, Deputy Leader Geoff Seddon, Dave Healey and Team Doctor Claire Whitney all proceeded to Salford Ambulance station to join a comprehensive debrief being held by all the NWAS staff involved. Our four team representatives would like to thank the NWAS staff involved in this debrief for the courtesy of extending the invitation to attend and fully involving us in their debrief.

Team members departed the Barton Embankment scene at 21:46 to head back to our base locations with the ambulance debrief completing at around 23:30.

The team sadly reports that the young 11 year old boy involved unfortunately died in this incident, despite the tremendous efforts of NWAS staff, our Team Doctor and the numerous hospital nurses and specialists involved.

Not to be forgotten is the tremendous search effort from a multi-agency viewpoint that led to the discovery of the boy in the water.

The team’s condolences are expressed to the parents and family of this boy, with special thoughts for his two friends and brother who witnessed this terrible and harrowing tragedy.

The following resources were deployed on this incident:

  • Bolton MRT, 28x callout list members (inclusive of our Canoe and Kayak Water Search Unit), and one Support Group member
  •  (including our four team Landrover Mountain Rescue ambulances and our Control trailer, with our Catering and Aireshelta stood down en-route)
  • SARDA Handler Alison Nicholson and Search Dog Floss from Bowland Pennine MRT
  • Greater Manchester Police, major deployment of divisional officers, Police Community Support Officers, Traffic division, Tactical Aid Unit(s), CID and CSI officers
  • Greater Manchester Police Air Support Unit Helicopter India 99
  • North West Regional Police Underwater Search and Marine Unit (based at Runcorn), 1 member on scene, rest of team stood down en-route.
  • Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, one pump appliance from from Sale fire station, two pump appliances and one hydraulic platform from Stretford fire station, one pump appliance and the Water Incident Unit from Eccles fire station, and the Water Incident Unit from Heywood Fire Station (we believe stood down en-route)
  • Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, officers in command including two station commanders and one group commander.
  • North West Ambulance Service (Manchester) Belle Vue Emergency Control Centre staff
  • North West Ambulance Service (Manchester): Two solo response vehicles, two HART unit solo response vehicles, one USAR solo response vehicle, three emergency ambulances, three HART-USAR incident units, one officer in charge.

The team would like to extend its thanks to the management of the David Lloyd leisure centre for allowing the use of its car park facilities and for the many members of the public who came up to us and other emergency workers involved in this operation to offer their thanks for our combined efforts.

This incident attracted considerable press, radio and television coverage, unfortunately because we are a voluntary organisation, all our members had to be in work the following day, and to a large degree despite requests to participate we were unable to take part in the television and most of the radio interviews, therefore our part in this operation can only truely be conveyed through the medium of our website (without lessening the very important involvement of our colleagues in the Police, Fire and Ambulance services).