Joint familiarity training session, Bolton MRT and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service Urban Search and Rescue Team

Today at our Ladybridge Hall Base/HQ the team played host to a visit by the LFRS USAR Team from Leyland, Lancashire.

The visit was part of a series of familiarity visits being undertaken by LFRS USAR into their operation, resources and deployment as an awareness exercise to other colleague agencies they may be called to work alongside on operational incidents.

Crew Manager Stuart Howarth, USAR Team Leader came along with his colleagues, Darren Kyle, Kirt Livesey (USAR Dog Handler with his USAR Dogs Isla and Holly) Scott Hardman and Daryl Sturgess, who all brought along their new in service VW Van based Rope Team and crew bus vehicle, and two ‘Prime Mover’ Fire Appliances.

Nineteen team call out list members were on hand to meet the USAR Team at 11:15, with all five of our Team Vehicles on display, our SAR Boat and Catering Trailer, with a full mountain rescue SAR kit display set up in our garage.

With tea and toast completed, introductions commenced. USAR Team Leader Stuart Howarth gave an illustrated presentation on the work of the LFRS USAR Team, outlining the following major points:

  • The number of FRS USAR Teams in England and Wales (20) and their standard equipment of a USAR Dog Unit, Crew Bus, and Four or five ‘Prime Mover’ appliances, equipped with roll on roll off modules.
  • Their tiered response system from a local level through specialist, mutual aid, national and ‘New Dimensions’ incidents
  • REPEAT was also explained, Reconnaissance and Survey, Elimination of Utilities, Primary surface search and rescue, Exploration of voids and spaces, Access by selected debris removal and Terminate by general debris removal.
  • The USAR Team is currently located in premises in Leyland with current plans envisaging a move to a new purpose built facility in Chorley soon.
  • Their integration with GMFRS USAR Team.
  • Crewing arrangements including extended duration working procedures.
  • The development of UK USAR Teams, including training, networking, road safety awareness presentations, standard tests in training, operational incidents, familiarisation training to other fire crews and agencies, technical training, lifting and moving.
  • An overview of the different vehicles in use within USAR Teams, including Module 1 Light Rescue, Module 2/Transport Incidents, Module 3/Heavy Rescue, Module 4/Logistics, and Module 5/Flatbed vehicle & timber stock. Other vehicles included the Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV) Bobcat with fork or bucket attachment, and their Crew Bus and Dog Van units.
  • Primary skills modules and the training necessary to become a USAR member.
  • Mobilising and PDA (Pre Determined Attendance) and the type of incidents covered, including Aircraft, Large Goods Vehicles, Trench collapses, Silo, Structural collapse, Terrorist incidents, and their MOU’s in place.

Our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE then gave an overview of Mountain Search and Rescue operations from a local, regional and national perspective, followed by a DVD presentation on the work of Mountain Rescue Teams nationally.

Garry also explained how the Bolton MRT is integrated within the local Statutory Emergency Services, and the operational workload of the team in assisting these services.

More tea and toast saw all move downstairs into our garage, to view the search and rescue equipment typically carried on all four of our Land Rover Mountain Rescue Ambulance vehicles.

It was then the turn of the five LFRS USAR members to show the Bolton MRT members present, around their three vehicles present and the very comprehensive and extensive specialist search and rescue equipment carried on them.

The familiarity visit ended at 15:30 with thoughts of joint exercise opportunities and further liaison visits.

The Bolton MRT puts considerable effort into multi agency liaison/familiarity awareness training of this nature, and all team members present today extend their thanks to LFRS Crew Manager & Team Leader Stuart Howarth and his colleague USAR members for coming along to visit us, for a very informative and interesting visit.