Team liaison visit to Bay Search and Rescue

Following the teams first meeting with our colleagues in South Cumbria from Bay Search and Rescue Team at the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service organised Fire Operations Group moorland wildfire exercise of Tuesday 29th May 2012, it was suggested that a visit might be of interest to Bay SARTs Base / HQ at Flookburgh, Cumbria.

Duly organised by Bolton MRT team member Chris Tennant and Bay SART Deputy Station Officer Paul Calland, this evening seven team members departed our Ladybridge Hall, Bolton, Base / HQ in our Minibus Ambulance for the journey north to Flookburgh, and an evening in the company of Bay Search and Rescue Team.

Attending from our team were Call Out list members Ana Toole, Naomi Horan (Equipment Officer-Medical), Samantha McKay, Nick Berry (Equipment Officer-Stretchers and Rope Rescue), Chris Tennant (Base and Catering Officer), Kris Kilshaw and David Crawford.

There follows a report on this visit by Team member Chris Tennant;

“The Seven go Bay Search(ing).”

“Seven team members undertook the out of area journey north to visit the HQ of Bay Search and Rescue Team; having gladly accepted an invite to look at their base and wonderful machines. Following the minibus’s satnav’, though sometimes to the puzzlement of Chris Tennant – who invariably has a ‘proper’ map with him – we reached our target within a few minutes of estimated time. We were warmly welcomed, not least by the offer of a brew and biscuits; especially as most of us had come straight from work.

“We were then shown the introductory ‘video’ of Bay Search’s formation and development. This took longer than anticipated due to the extremely good presentation by Paul Calland (Deputy Station Officer and a Trustee of the team – unlike MR they use coastguard terminology) as well as the number of questions ask by our members. Of specially interest to the writer and the other ‘techies’ were the details concerning their use and development of machines like the Hagglund and the new ‘Everglades’ type boat, as well as simple portable devices for extracting persons from quicksand – typically less than 10 minutes as opposed to an hour for ‘conventional’ means.

Whilst waiting for one of the Hagglunds to be prepared. Sam and Ana found a life size model of a sheep, painted red, and immediately made friends with it (they wanted to smuggle it back to Bolton but were watched carefully to ensure that they didn’t!)

Then came the highlight of the visit, a trip in one of the Hagglunds. These are most peculiar vehicles, originally designed for military uses in all terrain types, they consist of two permanently coupled units, each weighing 3 tons, and each mounted on a set of wide caterpillar tracks, having an extremely low ground loading meaning they can safely cross very ‘soft’ terrain, and should the ground then turn to liquid, no problem they can float as well!

Once seated, we set of along one of the tracks across the marsh (their base is only a few metres away from saltmarsh) and though not the most comfortable of vehicles, the ride was surprisingly good for something of that size travelling at around 20+ mph.

Unfortunately with it getting late we weren’t able to get out on to the sands but were given a sample of how steep a bank these machines can cope with as well as their soft ground capability when we crossed a particularly evil smelling stretch of near liquid marsh!

All too soon we arrived back at base, where relieved of the duty of hosing the vehicle down (it was somewhat muddy) we said our goodbyes and thanked our hosts for a most enjoyable and informative evening.

An uneventful journey home, this time with the satnav directing via the expected route, saw us back at LBH for 23:00 hrs.”

See also Website ‘News’ item dated Tuesday 29th May 2012, Lancashire FOG Exercise, and the direct link on our website ‘Links’ page to the website of Bay Search and Rescue Team.