Mountain Rescue National Water Conference

Today team member John Fletcher travelled to Edale Mountain Rescue Team Headquarters in the heart of the Peak District to attend the second Mountain Rescue National Water Conference. Following registration the Chairman of the National Water Conference, Andy Lee gave a short introduction to the day’s lectures.

The first lecture of the day came from Martin Bills, an Emergency Planning and National Resilience Officer with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service. He provided an excellent talk on the National Flood Rescue Enhancement Project from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for which he was an adviser. This project aims to standardise the response to major flooding, which is becoming more of a common occurrence recently. Martin then handed the stage back to Andy Lee an Edale MRT member and a Watch Manager in the UK Fire and Rescue Service, responsible for Operational Safety and Welfare. Andy then delivered an introduction to Incident Command and Safety Management covering topics from incident assessment and tasking to operating procedures. Following this the course candidates were treated to a fantastic selection of snacks and hot drinks.

With everyone suitably refreshed it was the turn of Alistair Read, one of the Team Leaders of Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation (OVMRO). Continuing in the excellent standards set, Alistair went on to explain the management of water search incidents. This very informative lecture covered topics from who would be involved in a multi-agency response to how to plan and task a search area covered by flood water. This finished with a scenario based exercise to task trained personal to a flood situation. Once each candidate had finalised their ‘response’ to this incident they had to answer the following questions; where to search first? With what? And for how long? This was a lot more difficult than first thought. With candidates still discussing the vast possible responses to this ‘incident’ Chris Onions also from OVMRO talked the course members through the development of Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation’s Water Team, covering the decision making processes to set up the water team and how they put this into practice and what standards they wanted to achieve. Finally before lunch he talked through different types of water PPE and the pros and cons for each. After a very informative morning the candidates were treated to an excellent selection of sandwiches and chips!

Following lunch, Martin Bills took to the stage once again to show a video on the Incident Management and EU Flood Exercise 2009 based in Holland and explain the planning process for this, which took 2 years! Robin Goodlad then explained the RNLI’s resources and how these were used in major floods in Mozambique in 2000, Lowes and Uckfield also in 2000, Guyana in 2005 and more recently the Hereford, Worcester, Gloucestershire and Cockermouth floods. He also covered the RNLI’s assets, training and their response to international floods. Once again the candidates were treated to a refreshment break.

Unfortunately Dr Phil Cowburn was unable to make today’s conference. However Andy Lee did a superb job of delivering Phil’s presentation on Medical Considerations in Incident Management and the impact this has on the rescue personnel and the local communities. It was then the turn of Paul O’Sullivan, the managing director of Rescue 3 (UK) to deliver National Training Guidance. This involved how to determine the training each Team needs based on their individual areas and the standard they want to achieve, whether it be on a local or a nation scale. Martin Bills then joined Paul to explain Flood Theory and the factors which affect this, based on rainfall, topography and saturation levels. Finally it was the turn of Ewan Thomas, the MREW National Water Officer to explain what Mountain Rescue (England & Wales) were doing to help and support Mountain Rescue Teams in their development of water search and rescue training.

The day was brought to a close with attendance certificates being issued and candidate feedback forms being completed.

John would like to thank the National Water Conference Committee, the guest speakers and all the members of Edale Mountain Rescue Team for enabling this day to be such a success.