Incident 12/2010

At 04:31 in the early hours of this morning following a very heavy overnight snowfall (which was continuing) the team was paged by NWAS (Manchester) Control to respond to a casualty in the Eccles area, with heart problems due to the responding ambulance being stuck in deep snow.

Our Team Leader Garry Rhodes instigated a full team callout but due to heavy snow many members had difficulty responding.

This incident became the first of 20 seperate incidents attended by the team during the day, up to the last incident at the day which concluded at 17:40.

In total, 20 team members were involved with NWAS Paramedics directly attached to the team forming part of our Landrover Mountain Rescue ambulance crews.

In addition two of our members’ private 4WD vehicles were also drafted in to assist in the day’s workload, and to backup our four team Landrover ambulances.

Very heavy snowfalls culminating in over 12 inches of snow accumulated during the day leading to gridlock throughout the whole of the Greater Manchester area.

Throughout the early morning the conditions worsened to such an extent that NWAS (Manchester) declared a major incident and mobilised Mountain Rescue teams from Bolton, Calder Valley, Holme Valley, Kinder, Glossop, Oldham, and Rossendale & Pendle to assist NWAS in the Greater Manchester area.

NWAS (Manchester) also made appeals through the local radio and regional television for the public to only call on the ambulance service for life-threatening emergency cases.

Our Ladybridge Hall base/HQ even became a mini NWAS ambulance control with the Regional Director of Emergency Operations for NWAS, Derek Cartwright and a very senior NWAS (Manchester) Operational Manager, Ged Blezard operating an overview role based on all incidents coming into the NWAS (Manchester) ambulance control.

A television interview for GMTV was filmed at our Ladybridge Hall base with NWAS Director Derek Cartwright giving reporter Elaine Wilcox an overview of the operations to date (the interview took place late morning), placing great emphasis on the cooperation between all MRTs operating in Greater Manchester and the NWAS (Manchester) control and road staff.

Throughout the day the snowfall continued with the team responding to a wide range of incidents including:

  • Assisting ambulances stuck in snow
  • Getting casualties from their home addresses across snowbound roads to the nearest point that NWAS ambulances could reach
  • Responding directly to emergency incidents on behalf of NWAS due to the prevailing conditions, and transporting such casualties to hospitals
  • Taking casualties to hospital from ambulances which had become stuck in snow
  • Responding directly to difficult access incidents such as snow sledgers on steep, frozen ground
  • On one occassion, clearing a main arterial road around Bolton of stranded vans and cars which were causing massive tailbacks

Many of the above incidents involved serious trauma or medical conditions and even involved responding to a woman in labour (we got the lady to hospital where she gave birth shortly afterwards.

BM2 and BM4 deliver a woman in labour to Royal Bolton Hospital maternity unit, with a plough trying to shift the masses of snow lying around!

Team Landrovers assisting the ambulance service at a nursing home

Team members use shovels to clear a path for an NWAS emergency ambulance

Team members and NWAS staff at the sledging accident at Longsight Park, with the casualty kept warm in our red “casualty bag”.

Team members again assist NWAS by carrying the casualty to the ambulance which couldn’t quite get to the home address

The last call of the day as night fell, to a sledger who had slipped on some steps, possibly injuring her back.

The snow conditions at our Ladybridge Hall base/HQ.

Team members Neil Aspinall, Fred Taylor, and Steve Fletcher managed to see the funny side.

Team members working with NWAS staff at the scene of a sledging accident at Rumworth reservoir embankment, Lostock.

During the day we responded to three serious snow sledging accidents, in the Lostock, Longsight Park and Daisy Hill areas, where we were able to use our specialist equipment and training to evacuate the casualties to the NWAS ambulances.

As all this was happening, our Deputy Team Leader Geoff Seddon in his own vehicle which was equipped with emergency lighting and medical equipment, plus an NWAS Paramedic/Operational Manager on board was utilised by NWAS (Manchester) as a Rapid Response Vehicle in its own right. They responded directly to six furhter incidents on top of the 20 incidents attended by the team membership.

In total 20 team members were involved in today’s operations working in close harmony with directly attached NWAS Paramedics and NWAS Emergency road crews. Our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE coordinated the team’s response throughout the day, working in very close direct liaison with NWAS (Manchester) Control room staff (not forgetting the assistance provided by Bolton MRT team member Chris Greenhalgh).

Thanks must be given to the General Manager of NWAS Ladybridge Hall, Anne El-Garidi who arranged for the grounds maintenance team of the NWAS HQ complex to clear the roads into and out of our base to ensure that the heavy snowfall did not hamper our access and egress.

Anne El-Garidi also arranged for catering for our team members at the Ladybridge NWAS HQ staff restaraunt (which was very much appreciated by the team membership!)

The 26 seperate incidents which overall are reported here under one overall incident number, plus of course the incidents which occurred earlier in the day and later in the evening, represent the busiest day ever in the 41 year history of this volunteer rescue team.

Throughout the day we met with fantastic support and very welcoming kind comments from all members of the public we came into contact with, particularly the casualties who all realised the difficult circumstances that we and our colleagues in NWAS were faced with.

Readers of our website will also appreciate that not only is this the busiest day in the team’s history, it has undoubtledly been (to date) the busiest period in the team’s history.