Dec Wednesday 19 2012
At 19.30hrs they were advised by an ‘exercise pager message’ that three hill walkers were missing near Rivington Pike and that Greater Manchester Police were dealing with this incident and requested that the Bolton MRT be placed on immediate standby.
As the next half hour progressed, ‘GMP’ lost touch with the three walkers when their mobile phone battery ran out, but not before establishing they had become lost in the rain and mist on a late afternoon walk, they had no map, no torch and no real idea where they were other than on Rivington Moor.
With the news that two had ankle injuries and could not walk, just as their phone battery ran out, ‘GMP’ called out the team to find them and bring them to safety.
For our ten new Probationary members, this was their first ‘proper’ outdoor exercise with the team since their first meeting with us on Thursday 25th October 2012.
Conditions at the Winter Hill TV Station RVP were truly atrocious, with horizontal driving torrential rain and temperatures hovering around 3c, plus visibility of about 20 metres in the low cloud.
Underfoot, well what do you expect on peat moorland after months of seemingly non stop rain!
To locate them we firstly tried relying on local knowledge, but a subsequent check later plotting our course showed in the extremely poor visibility we had headed off track very soon!
A GPS plot was then tried, not as successfully as we had hoped for, more successful was firing off a red distress flare and asking if it could be seen from the ‘casualty site?’ (Ok we cheated a bit by linking up with Gyles Denn by radio who was acting as the ‘safety officer’ for our three exercise casualties)
(Note to our readers, the flares when fired in mist, tend to produce a ‘reddish glow’ within the mist which can then be used as a location aid)
Soon we found the exercise casualty site, to be informed our members had walked close by earlier in the exercise, but due to the poor visibility had not seen the casualties – who kept quiet just to make sure we spent even longer out in the cold, dark and wet looking for them!
With one ‘walking wounded’ and two on stretchers, it was a very wet and boggy evacuation back to Winter Hill summit and the relative shelter of our vehicles.
Thanks to Team Support Group members Laura Tunnicliffe, Sarah Hindle and Andrew Wilson who so kindly agreed to sit for a few hours in the wet and cold of Rivington Moor awaiting ‘rescue,’ to Gyles Denn who made sure ‘we’ actually found them (!) and to the twenty four full team members and ten probationary members who gave up a night in keeping warm watching television, to battle instead with torrential rain and very boggy moorland!
And the amazing thing was at the end of the exercise, everybody present said they had thoroughly enjoyed it (Webmaster; the fools!)