Incident 20/2012

At circa 17:36 one of our crews at Royal Bolton Hospital (at the conclusion of incident 19/2012) were informed by a GMP Police Officer of a report of an incident which would likely require the team, as it involved an injured hill walker upon the local moors, and to which GMP were responding too.

Our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE, who was at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ with a small number of team members, was immediately informed and directly contacted the Greater Manchester Police Force Duty Officer at the GMP Control Room.

GMP had received a report of an injured hill walker, ‘lost’ somewhere on a walk between Rivington Pike and Winter Hill, possibly in the general vicinity of Two Lads on Wilders Moor.

Given the very poor wintry conditions on the local moorlands, a very quick discussion between Garry and the Force Duty Manager, resulted in a decision to immediately deploy the team.

At 17:45 a full team call out was paged, requesting members to meet at the bottom of the moorland track of Georges Lane, on the moors above Horwich, where a search to locate the exact whereabouts of the injured hill walker would be launched from.

At 17:58 our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE assisted by team member Diane Blakeley, met the first responding GMP Officers at Georges Lane, and the responding NWAS (Manchester) Emergency Ambulance at 18:01, with our first responding team Land Rovers, BM2 and BM4 also in attendance at this time.

Although GMP had been in mobilephone contact with the hill walker, no contact could be made by Garry or the team’s Deputy Leader Geoff Seddon, and a quick search strategy was developed to locate the injured hill walker, particularly given the wintry conditions of freezing rain, icy conditions underfoot and low cloud combined with very cold temperatures and darkness.

Search parties were deployed from the Winter Hill TV Mast access road in the vicinity of Two Lads, with other parties deployed from the what was to become the main Emergency Services RVP at the remote and very isolated Pike Cottage (Also known as Sportsman’s Cottage) on the moorland track of Georges Lane, high on the moors above Horwich.

With no mobilephone contact possible with the missing and injured hill walker, at circa 18:19 our Deputy Leader Geoff Seddon, in the company of a GMP Officer saw the torchlight of the missing injured man, and by 18:29 had located the man, who was in the vicinity of Crooked Edge Hill in the area of Two Lads on Wilders Moor.

Team members arrive at the scene of the incident and shelter the injured male from the elements

The man had slipped on ice, and sustained a very painful suspected fracture dislocation of his kneecap, thankfully he was well equipped, but was still very cold from the ground and weather conditions, and also in considerable discomfort from his injury.

The casualty is loaded onto one of the team’s stretchers

At this stage, freezing rain was coating everything it landed on with a veneer of ice, including the moorland grass, with walking conditions underfoot very hazardous (indeed during this rescue a number of our members received painful bruising from simple slips, despite many wearing ‘ice chains’ on their boots and being experienced in snow and ice conditions).

Team members carry the man off the moor towards the George’s Lane RVP

With casualty care and rescue equipment despatched from the Winter Hill TV Mast road, and further MRT parties despatched from the Pike Cottage area, (All guided in to the casualty site in conditions of falling freezing rain and low cloud by Emergency Flares being fired off) the injured solo male 42 year old hill walker from the Horwich area, was given very strong drugs to combat his pain.

By 18:59 he was safely wrapped up in two large casualty bags (big waterproof and windproof sleeping bags) and placed on a mountain rescue specialist stretcher, with his dislocated knee splinted.

A shot of the emergency vehicles on George’s Lane – plenty of ice visible on the road!

The stretcher evacuation commenced at 19:05, with the casualty finally getting to the warmth of the NWAS (Manchester) Emergency Ambulance at 19:30, which was positioned by Pike Cottage, the stretcher party for the last ten minutes of the carry having been guided by the powerful vehicle mounted searchlights on our team Land Rovers.

Here in the NWAS Ambulance further treatment was given, with the NWAS Ambulance departing for Royal Bolton Hospital at 19:50, with team member (and full time Intensive Care Nurse) Naomi Horan travelling in the ambulance to offer guidance on the drugs administered. (Our BM2 vehicle escorted the ambulance down the moorland track)

The male casualty arrives at the waiting NWAS Ambulance for onward transport to hospital

By this stage most of our resources had left the RVPs with all heading back for warm drinks and to tidy up/dry kit used on this incident at our Ladybridge Hall Base/HQ.

In a remarkable co-incidence, the location we found this injured hill walker in was barely metres away from the location we have since determined the two young missing hill walkers were lost at, on incident 18/2012, Sunday 5th February!

The following resources deployed to this incident:

  • Bolton Mountain Rescue Team
    • 25 team members involved with one team member stood down responding
    • (Two others couldn’t make the call but met up at our Base/HQ to help with the clean up)
    • All four Team Land Rover Mountain Rescue Ambulance Vehicles
  • Greater Manchester Police
    • Force Control Room
    • Three Officers on scene, including one who accompanied the team on to the moor and fully helped with the rescue.
    • GMP requested Air Support, but low cloud and conditions of icing precluded the use of a helicopter
  • Lancashire Constabulary
    • Three Officers on scene in one vehicle.
  • NWAS (Manchester)
    • Belle Vue Emergency Control Centre
    • one Emergency Ambulance (2x crew, who held at Pike Cottage).
    • NWAS HART Team (stood down responding, when the casualty was found and it was determined on scene resources could deal with the incident)