Wednesday evening exercise held at Little Hulton

This evenings routine weekly Wednesday training exercise was organised and arranged by our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE and long serving team member Matthew Hailwood.

It took the form of a typical lowland search scenario, as we are frequently called to deal with, leading to a casualty find, but with a few twists thrown in, just for good measure.

Commencing late afternoon, with a series of phone calls made by ‘GMP’ Garry Rhodes (he of many hats) our Deputy Team Leader Chris Greenhalgh was informed that ‘GMP’ were requesting the team go to standby regards the possibility of a search for a missing from home.

A concerned wife had contacted Police to say that her husband had gone missing on his way home walking from work late this afternoon, from Walkden to the New Bury estate in Farnworth.

‘GMP’ enquiries were on going.

Armed with this information, as part of the exercise the team was paged to standby status at 17.46hrs, preparing them for the forthcoming exercise.

At 19.11hrs via SARCALL ‘GMP’ Garry Rhodes, contacted Chris Greenhalgh to inform him based on a number of reports received from concerned members of the public, the Bolton MRT was possibly required to conduct an immediate search of an open land area in Little Hulton, in relation to this missing 44 years old man.

A further ‘exercise’ inject message at 19.27hrs from Garry to Chris, led to a full team exercise call out page at 19.35hrs.

Responding in all six of our Team vehicles, team members began arriving at the exercise search RVP at Ravenscraig Road off Cleggs Lane, Little Hulton, for the 20.00hrs start.

Five search parties were arranged, under experienced party leaders, and by 20.25hrs they were committed to a search of the former Ashton fields Colliery area of Little Hulton, now a pleasantly landscaped 84 acre country park.

The control team of Deputy Team Leader Chris Greenhalgh, assisted by Neil Aspinall and Paul Copley as radio / loggists, monitored the search progress, which very quickly led to the finding of the exercise casualty for this evening – played by 44 years old Andrew Bateson, who is a full time Response Officer with GMP.


Andrew acted out the role of someone a little worse for drink, who had stumbled down a steep banking, ending up lying against a fence with neck and back injuries.

Appropriate vacuum mattress splintage equipment was requested, as his treatment got underway and his stretcher evacuation was being planned.

At this stage, Garry had organised a twist to the evenings storyline / plot.

Team member Sam McKay had been told at this point to feign a slip, and inform all she had a leg fracture injury – her acting was so good, linked to the well known exercise gremlin of miscommunication, that for a few minutes, all thought her play acting was for real.

Another exercise scenario confirmed, our control team now had two ‘exercise’ casualties to deal with.
All was not finished however, as Garry played his trump card, having arranged now for team member Steve O’Hara, to also feign an injury, this time a dislocated knee.


By 22.10hrs the exercise was concluded, ‘order had come out of chaos,’ (actually all went very well) Sam McKay is now being put forward for an Oscar, and our three exercise controllers had a lot of paperwork and notes to remind them of their success tonight.

Thanks are due to exercise casualty Andrew Bateson, who was also out in the same capacity with us last week, alongside Zach Bateson.

In total we had twenty eight Call Out list, and four Trainee Team members out on this exercise.

And as most members had departed, a team member discovered he’d lost some personal items on the exercise, so a real search took place, sadly not finding the missing keys!