Team members attend todays multi agency “Exercise Whinny” organised by Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team

This morning, six of our Team Call Out list members met very early at 06.00hrs at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ to depart for the operational area of Swaledale MRT to take part in their fourth annual one day exercise.

Attending were Gillian Leigh, Equipment Officer (Stretchers and Rope Rescue) Nick Berry, David Crawford, Jess Ellsmore, Samantha McKay and Chris Tennant, who all headed north in our Ford Transit Crewbus / Ambulance, ‘Bolton Mobile 5.’

This years Swaledale MRT exercise, took the form of a multi agency response to a ‘Flash Flood’ event, with teams from the many MRT’s and other agencies taking part, rotating through several different scenarios throughout the day.

Centred on the Whinny Hill training facility within Catterick Garrison, the aim of the exercise was to develop an understanding of the operational capabilities and procedures of all category 1 responders involved in the response to the aftermath of a flash flood event.

As with previous years, the exercise was not a competition rather it was intended as a training opportunity for all agencies to work alongside each other in a variety of testing and varied scenarios.

It also allowed the Emergency Services Incident Commanders present to practice the management of three concurrent incidents, with Mountain Rescue assets.

The exercise took the form of a response to the aftermath of a Major Flash Flood event.

Under the direction of a multi-agency control, available resources were grouped to respond to three separate tasks within the village, with approximately 90 minutes allocated for each task. Groups including our members rotated through each task under the control of the multi-agency command cell. The following skills and competencies practised were;

  • Urban Search and Rescue
  • Confined Space Search and Rescue
  • Rescue Rope Work at Height
  • Navigation within an urban environment
  • Radio communications
  • Command and Control within a Multi-Agency Environment
  • Dynamic Risk assessment and use of the Command Support Package
  • Casualty Care / Basic Life Support including Triage
  • Stretcher Handling
  • Search and Field skills
  • Crime Scene Awareness

We understand the following organisations were involved in todays exercise:

The host and organising team; Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team, Bolton Mountain Rescue Team, Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team, Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team, Cheshire Search and Rescue Team, Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team, Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Organisation, North Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, British Red Cross, Yorkshire Air Ambulance and SARDA (England)

The Bolton MRT team members taking part today would like to thank Training Officer David (Davie) Thomson, of Swaledale MRT and Ian Speirs Team Leader of Swaledale MRT for the kind invitation to attend this years fourth annual Swaledale MRT multi agency exercise, and for yet another excellently organised exercise.

There follows a personal report on todays excellent exercise by Bolton MRT Call Out list member David Crawford;

“We departed our Base / HQ at Ladybridge Hall at 06.30hrs in the team mini-bus and on arrival in Catterick enjoyed a quick breakfast stop before heading to the rendezvous point at Whinney Hill, an army training urban environment. We received a comprehensive briefing from Ian Speirs, Team Leader Swaledale MRT, describing the scenario of an overnight flash flood which had devastated the village and multi-agency services were assembling in the village hall preparing for deployment.

Those attending were split into teams to deal with three incidents in rotation during the day. Our first scenario required searching three buildings and surrounding land to locate dead and injured exercise casualties and provide appropriate care and safe evacuation. Helimed arrived to assist with this exercise, and our very own Trainee Team member Jess Ellesmore was tasked with signalling the landing area to the incoming helicopter and communicating with the pilot by radio!

Our second scenario was a block of ‘luxury apartments’ with the lower two floors rendered inaccessible by the floods, requiring fire service ladders to gain access to the building via the third floor balcony. The building was searched for exercise casualties, who had been made up with extremely life-like injuries and acted their part with great realism. The casualties were lowered by stretcher from a third floor window, and our Nick Berry took centre stage for one lower, acting as ‘barrow boy’ descending with the casualty who was in a stretcher.

After a short lunch and a group photo, our final scenario of the day was the rescue of two council workmen trapped by flood water in an underground drain. Two fire officers and two mountain rescue team members descended into the dark and extremely muddy drain. One casualty emerged walking but hypothermic, with the second requiring a more tricky evacuation along the muddy tunnel. During this exercise the Assistant Chief Constable of North Yorkshire, Sue Cross, descended the tunnel to observe the exercise in action.

The day concluded with a short debrief and appreciation from the fire and police services for the opportunity to join with mountain rescue teams in the multi-agency exercise.

It was a most enjoyable and useful day and clearly much hard work had gone into the planning and organisation.

The members of Bolton Mountain Rescue Team who attended are grateful to the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team for the opportunity to participate in this exercise and for all their hard work involved in organising and hosting it.”