Incident 78/2009

At 11.19hrs this morning our Team Leader Garry Rhodes received details of an incident near to Darwen Tower that had been received by Rossendale and Pendle MRT in error, and that their Team Leader Andy Simpson was passing on to our team for us to respond to. This area lying in our area of operational responsibility.

Our Team Leader immediately contacted NWAS (Lancashire) Control to ascertain more details, establishing that a female mountain biker was injured below the Darwen (Jubilee) Tower area, and that Helimed 72 was on scene and our immediate assistance was required.

At 11.25hrs a full Team Pager Call Out was made, requesting that all team members initially RVP at the Sunnyhurst Inn, Sunnyhurst, on the slopes below Darwen Hill.

Our 1st team member arrived at the RVP at 11.53hrs, followed by a 2nd at 11.54hrs and then our Team Leader and our 1st responding vehicle, BM1 at 11.57hrs.




There was some initial difficulty in establishing the casualty site, but this was confirmed when one of the responding NWAS crew members ran down the hillside to guide our first vehicle to the scene.

By driving very carefully along a narrow hillside track our BM1 vehicle was able to directly access the casualty scene, where the four members on board joined in the casualty treatment with the NWAS (Lancashire) Emergency Ambulance crew, and one of the NWAA Helimed 72 Paramedic crew. Helimed 72 had landed some way down the hillside, below the casualty site, on the corner embankment of Sunnyhurst Hey Reservoir.




The woman involved, a 45 year old local mountain biker had fallen from her bike whilst riding in the company of her husband, sustaining possible fractures down her left hand side, head and leg cuts and suspected spinal injuries. In a joint operation with the NWAS and Helimed crews present, team members carefully placed the injured woman, who was semi concious, onto a full length back board with head blocks.

At this stage The NWAA Helimed 72 in consultation with the team and one of the NWAS crew, who was ex Helimed crew, relocated to nearer the casualty site, landing on the steep hillside on some flat ground at the entrance to an overgrown quarry.

Other team members provided full cordon safety around the helicopter, as all the activity was now attracting lots of onlookers from the many walkers out and about on the local paths around this part of Darwen Moor. Whilst Helimed 72 was repositioning, the injured woman was then placed on a Bell Mountain Rescue Stretcher and carried some 300 metres to where Helimed 72 had now relocated.
The injured woman who was on Oxygen and had been given Entonox pain relieving gas was stretcher loaded on to the helicopter by 12.31hrs, which then flew her direct to Royal Blackburn Hospital, landing there at 12.43hrs.
We were then faced with the difficulty of carefully getting our BM1, which had been joined by BM4, back safely down the very narrow moorland track.

By 13.18hrs all our assets and the originally responding NWAS crew were back at the Sunnyhurst Inn RVP., ah the temptation to go and have a pint, but we had kit to collect from the hospital, and we were all driving, etc etc and we all left shortly afterwards.

The following resources were used on this incident;

  • Bolton MRT 20x Team members and our four Team Land Rover Mountain Rescue Ambulances.
  • NWAS (Lancashire) Accident and Emergency Control.
  • NWAS (Lancashire) 1x Emergency Ambulance, (2x Crew) Darwen Ambulance Station. Both have worked with the team before, the Paramedic Chris Fraser Clark both as Emergency road crew and whilst with Helimed 08
  • North West Air Ambulance, callsign Helimed 72 from City Airport, Manchester (Barton).

Thanks also to the husband of the injured woman who, obviously, stayed with her and did much to comfort her whilst we were all carrying out essential casualty care.

The team on behalf of all involved also thanks the residents of the very narrow lanes immediately around the Sunnyhurst Inn for the temporary disruption we caused to their Sunday morning and early afternoon, by having to park out of necessity across some pathways and property entrances.