Joint Exercise Day, between Rivington and Belmont – A complete success

Today we held a full day (well daylight at least) joint mountain rescue exercise, on the local moors between Rivington and Belmont, involving many agencies, some local to us, some not so local.

The entire day had been jointly organised by our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE and our Team Training Officer Alistair Greenough, calling upon the many links and liaisons we in Bolton MRT enjoy with the participants attending.

The main aims of the day were joint working, renewing old friendships and making new ones – all of which by the end of the day were met.

Our team met early this morning around 08.30hrs onwards, at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ, where some of the Remote Medic UK members (Mostly from Essex) and our Training Officer Alistair Greenough had stayed overnight, most sleeping soundly except for Alistair who suffered a major air bed malfunction!

All then journeyed to the exercise RVP at Hordern Butts Delf car park above Wards reservoir at Belmont (more familiarly known as the ‘Blue Lagoon’)

Here our Support Group members Iain Clarkson, Laura Tunnicliffe and Sarah Hindle started their long days ‘shift’ in our catering trailer unit, providing an endless supply of bacon, sausage and spam barms throughout the day, alongside cheese or tuna butties, and innumerable cups of tea, coffee and fizzy drinks.

Experienced Bolton MRT team member Mike Marsh, alongside relative newcomer to our Incident Control Vehicle, colleague team member David Crawford, then commenced their long day co-ordinating and controlling all taking part as they played out all the exercise scenarios arranged.

Five scenarios had been arranged by our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE and Training Officer Alistair Greenough, with detailed briefing for each site worked out by Alistair.

The five exercises involved a diabetic hill walker, an injured mountain biker, a family party wild camping – all suffering from the effects of a camping gas stove explosion ! an injured rock scrambler in a moorland waterfall ravine and a missing person.

Venues ranged from Hoar Stones Delf and Hordern Butts Delf quarries, to Shore gully below Noon Hill, an abandoned farm ruin near Moor Bottom, and Great Gutter waterfall which flows in to Wards reservoir.

All present were arranged in to five response parties, two of six, two of seven and one of eight MRT / SRT / Remote Medic UK members, and starting at circa 10.45hrs they were despatched to work around each scenario.

Transport to each exercise location was primarily provided by our Ford Transit crewbus / Ambulance, driven by team Support Group member Dave Rees (a former operational Bolton MRT member in the 1980s and our one time Secretary and Training Officer) – all locations catered for so long as they were part of todays exercise!

Further transport was provided by two vehicles from North West 4×4 Response, (Including driver and former Bolton MRT member John Forsdyck) who also transported food packages to all our exercise casualties and provided additional logistical support.
Each exercise scenario location had an observer / briefing officer / overseer present, three from Bolton MRT, one from Remote Medic UK and one – former Bolton MRT team member Gyles Denn, who all provided guidance and advice, with each of the five groups debriefing their input within each group.

At Shore gully our trainee air scenting search dog Blitz carried out some search work with our trainee handler Jess Ellsmore.
Between 12.57hrs and 13.30hrs we were joined by NPAS 23 Warton, with this Police Helicopter carrying out joint search work within the exercise scenarios, landing on the moorland at Moor Bottom, rotors turning, and a further landing near Hoar Stones Delf quarry.

At he same time and staying for one and half hours, former Bolton MRT member Ray Clift and Brian Cocker, expertly demonstrated their Phantom 2 Quadcopter UAV, hovering over the exercise sites closest to the RVP beaming back a live video feed.

Rossendale and Pendle MRT brought along their brand new Incident Support vehicle, which by the vagaries of IT managed to get the internet link our Incident Control vehicle couldn’t quite grab from the ethernet ! inevitably comparisons were made, but aside from friendly banter both represent the latest state of art Mountain Rescue Control vehicles – very impressive (and both have a hot water boiler on board!)

GMFRS who had earlier been on operational deployment, then arrived with two appliances, carrying out some off road / moorland track driving and radio communications exercises, within our overall exercise.

We also had visitors from GMP, a Lancashire Constabulary Road Policing Unit car, two PCSOs and the land owners United Utilities.
Team friend and supporter Carl Silver was on hand as the exercise ‘Official Photographer,’ – thanks as ever carl for your valued support.

Aside from the exercise scenarios, inter agency communications, ie can our radio talk to your radio was tested, as was how long our mobile phone and Airwaves radio batteries could last!

By circa 16.00hrs all groups had successfully completed all five exercise scenarios, and with all the gas supply exhausted in our Catering Trailer Unit and therefore no more hot food, the exercise was concluded with a short debrief, and a return for all to their home base locations as the onset of darkness set in.

From feedback throughout the day, we are sure today was a total success with much gained by all attending.

We would like to thank United Utilities for their appreciated co-operation with this exercise, all our exercise casualties (Thanks to Bolton MRT Life Vice President Alan James for the realistic casualty make up) and every single participant who brought along their enthusiasm, interest and good humour to make this exercise an enjoyable one for all present.

Thanks also to Bolton MRT team member Diane Blakeley, who through illness could not attend today, yet kindly tweeted the updates sent to her via telephone regards the content and progress of todays exercise.

At the end of todays exercise, it was back to our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ for a quick clean and check of all the vehicles and equipment used on todays exercise, with at least four team members at our Base / HQ again tomorrow carrying out more thorough cleaning and checking.

The following is a complete listing of all participants, visitors and resources involved in todays exercise ;

  • Bolton Mountain Rescue Team; 24x Call Out list members, 1x Trainee member, 5x Probationary members, 4x Support Group members, Trainee air scenting mountain rescue search dog Blitz, Mountain Rescue Trailing Search Dog Boris, Four Land Rover Defender Mountain Rescue Ambulances, Ford Transit crewbus / Ambulance, VW Crafter Incident Control Vehicle, Catering Unit trailer.
  • North East Wales Search and Rescue Team; 1x team member – thanks to Mark Ashley for representing his team.
  • Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team; 7x team members, including Team Leader Peter Goble, Toyota Hi Lux Mountain Rescue Ambulance, Mercedes Sprinter 4WD Incident Support Vehicle.
  • Cheshire Search and Rescue Team; Team members Mark Susca, James Hough and Fabrice Fleurot, Land Rover 110 Search and Rescue Ambulance.
  • Remote Medic UK; 9x members including Doctor Paul Bromley, Chief Operating Officer and CQC Registered Manager,  Mark Wigley, Director of Operations and Named Professional for Safeguarding, Doctor David Ridley, Deputy Medical Director, and Claire Simpson, Governance and Compliance Manager.
  • North West 4×4 Response; 6x members, 4x of whom kindly acted the role of exercise casualties. 2x Land Rover Discovery vehicles actively involved in exercise.
  • Scout Association ; 2x 13 year old Scouts, thanks Ben and James.
  • Lancashire Constabulary; 2x Road Policing Unit Traffic Officers, BMW Traffic Car, from Blackburn, 2x Police Community Service Officers and a Divisional Van from Darwen / Blackburn.
  • Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service; Full duty crew from Bolton North Community Fire Station, including Watch Manager Nigel Booth (Bolton MRT Equipment Officer – Medical) and five colleague Fire Fighters, Pump Appliance and Pinzgauer All Wheel Drive off road Pump Appliance.
  • United Utilities; On duty Ranger (Haslingden Grane) Andy Ryding (a former Bolton MRT member and an ex Bolton MRT Training Officer), Head Works Controller (Rossendale) Terry Warburton.
  • Greater Manchester Police; DC Jane Wilcock and DC Keith Galley, both currently with North West Counter Terrorism Unit, both have experience of working operationally with Bolton MRT.
  • Quadcopter Phantom 2 UAV (Drone) Operators; Ray Clift and Brian Cocker.
  • Carl Silver, Photographer and great friend and supporter of the Bolton MRT.
  • National Police Air Support Service; NPAS 23, Warton, based at BAE Systems Warton Aerodrome, Lancashire. Pilot / Captain and two crew Police Air Observers.

Unfortunately due to operational commitments the NWAS HART could not attend.

In total eighty two persons involved, and two mountain rescue dogs.