Very kind comments about Bolton MRT contained in Year End Report by Chairman / Team Leader of Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue Team

Today our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE, alongside such organisations as Norfolk Constabulary, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, BBC News, and the RAF, was copied in to the ‘Year End Report’ made by Paul Chamberlain, Chairman / Team Leader of Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue Team.

As our regular readers will recall, we have assisted Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue Team in the past by donating to them surplus team kit items now replaced within the Bolton MRT by newer kit items, we have also donated to them what was our former Control Trailer following its replacement in our team this year by our brand new Incident Control Vehicle, and we have also worked together on joint training opportunities in each others team area.

The following is Paul’s excellent year end report to the members of Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue Team, which we have reproduced in full here;

“As 2013 draws to a close, I have taken the time to write a review of 2013, similar to the one I composed last year. As you will see 2013 has been a year of continued growth for NORLSAR, a message I hope comes to the fore in the review.”

“As we enter 2014, I hope we can continue to grow and evolve as a team, developing our capabilities, gaining further qualifications and providing the people of Norfolk with a highly competent and efficient service.”

“I hope that 2014 will see our working relationships strengthen and as a result the services we can provide develop.”

“I would like to extend an open invitation to all of you to join us in 2014 for training, operational commitments allowing, so we can further develop organisational links at all levels.”

“Finally, on behalf of all at Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2014.”

“Kind Regards, Paul Chamberlain, Chairman / Team Leader, NORFOLK LOWLAND SEARCH AND RESCUE.”

Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue – Review of 2013

As 2013 draws to an end I thought I would take the time to put pen to paper and reflect on our achievements over the last twelve months, in a similar style to what was referred to last year as my ‘queen’s speech’.

2013 has been a year of huge growth for NORLSAR, as a team we are growing up. Our equipment inventory and capabilities reflect this growth, with many members committing extra time to train in specialist areas. As I reflect on the past twelve months I am sure I will not cover every item that is pertinent to every individual but I hope I do justice to our achievements over the last year.

The 31st January 2013 marked the 60th anniversary of the North Sea tidal flood that inundated Norfolk and much of the East Coast killing 307 people, there could not have been a more relevant evening to have met with Roy Harold and Phil Berry at Carrow Fire Station for the presentation of certificates to those members who qualified in the November of 2012 as Swiftwater Rescue Technicians. We have now consolidated our position within Lowland Rescue as the only full member team within ALSAR to be listed on the DEFRA National Flood Rescue Asset Register. All those involved with this over the last year have given up substantial amounts of extra time to train, over and above the training that is required to maintain our basic land search capability. As a result of this development our relationship with the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has grown to a level unimaginable even twelve months ago.

I am writing this, from our office base at Fire Service HQ in Heathersett, for the first time in our history we have a home, somewhere permanent where we can have our management meetings, a place to store and issue kit, and most importantly a place to fill up flasks. We ‘moved in’ during April and it already feels as if we have been there for longer.

In May we finally took delivery of our ‘New’ control trailer from our friends at Bolton MRT. It must have looked very strange driving through the Lincolnshire fens with a trailer advertising a mountain rescue team, luckily we did not get stopped and the trailer made its way back to Norwich safely, it was soon re-liveried and out training with us. Little did we know its first outing on a working job would be to Bawsey Pits near Kings Lynn to assist in the search for one of two people who sadly drowned on a hot summer’s day in July.

Another first was the deployment of our mountain bike team, 30 minutes after completing their training course. The value of the bike team was highlighted in early February, when a team using their own mountain bikes sadly found the body of the missing person, the bikes allow us to extend our search areas and move small items of equipment quickly into areas that can not be reached with a 4×4 vehicle.

As I mentioned earlier, individuals have given so much extra in time to increase our capabilities, thanks to our friends at Cheshire SAR, we now have 8 members of NORLSAR BTACC (Basic Trauma and Casualty Care) trained, as I keep mentioning when I meet with our friends in the Police, this is NPIA D13 Enhanced, it means something to someone I hope. Thanks to 4×4 Response we were able to augment our first aid provision further with a joint REC (Rescue Emergency Care) 2 day aid course in November. It is a real pleasure to see so many people taking up the offers of external training to enhance the service we offer.

On the subject of external training, I believe we now have the only trained Mountain Rescuers in Norfolk, again thanks to Bolton MRT we where offered eight places on their ‘Joint Foundation Course’ a combination of theoretical lectures and practical sessions over an intensive two day period in mid October allowed us to share skills and knowledge with colleagues from numerous Mountain Rescue Teams and again meet up with friends from Cheshire SAR.

And finally full circle, the Fire and Rescue Service, thanks to the long term loan of their old Land Rover we are mobile, we have a trailer and a vehicle to tow it, how apt that the first time the two have been used together was on a joint training exercise on the broads with the fire service.

To thank everyone for what we have achieved in 2013 would be impossible, that said I am going to mention a few people. I must start by thanking Duncan Barrow of USAR Dereham, Duncan was our initial point of contact with the fire service and continues to support our SRT Team with training, additionally I would like to thank Station Manager Phil Berry, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Roy Harold and Chief Fire Officer Nigel Williams for their continued friendship, support and advice to NORLSAR. From Bolton MRT, Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE has been a great source of inspiration to me personally and has extended the hand of friendship eastwards from Bolton to Norfolk. As a team we have learnt and benefited so much from all at Bolton MRT over the last 12 months – Thank you. I would like to thank all the PolSA’s without whom we would not exist, thank you for your continued support.

And finally, to the members, without whom there would not be a team. Thank you for giving up evenings for regular training, for leaving the family behind for a weekend to take part in a specialist training course, for standing outside a supermarket in the rain collecting money or sorting out equipment at Hethersett, but most importantly thank you for being available 24/7 365 days a year to help someone who you have never met before. Without this we would not exist, regardless of time, regardless of whether you turn out, always willing and always positive.

I hope 2014 will be another year of continued growth for NORLSAR. I hope we can further develop our relationships with the Police and the Fire and Rescue Service and begin a relationship with the Ambulance service. As initiatives such as the ‘Herbert Protocol’ potentially reduce the need for our existing services we should not be afraid of adapting our offering to meet new and as yet unscripted challenges.

Wishing you all a very merry and safe Christmas and a joyous 2014. Paul