Report on last nights Joint Exercise with Cheshire SART at Middlewood Scout Camp, Worsley

Yesterday evenings weekly team exercise on March 11th, took place at Middlewood Scout Camp, off Leigh Road, Worsley.

Readers will recall an exercise planning visit took place on Tuesday morning, 10th March – see website ‘News’ report dated the same.

We were joined by members of Cheshire Search and Rescue Team, including full team members, trainee members and even some of their very enthusiastic brand new members with only a few weeks experience.

Completely taking over the campsite car park, with our many private cars and team vehicles, our Incident Control Vehicle was parked up alongside Cheshire SARTs Control Vehicle.

Commencing at 20.00hrs (Cheshire team had been present a commendable 40 minutes earlier – so were able to indulge in the ancient art of group milling) all present were placed in to six SAR parties, consisting of both Bolton MRT and Cheshire SART members.

Exercise Control consisted of Bolton MRT Mike Marsh and Cheshire SART Chris Rank, who had the task of keeping the exercise running smoothly, with each party given twenty minutes to visit each of six scenario sites inclusive of travel time, within the extensive woodland and glades (plus a large lake) of Middlewood Scout Camp.

The six scenario sites consisted of;

  1. Cub Site field; Bolton MRT Steve O’Hara overseeing an exercise incident, where a camper – complete with tent and stove – we do like our props! had suffered extensive burns in a stove flare up, treat as you find!
  2. Cub Site field, ‘Observation Tower,’; Bolton MRT Michael Wakerley on scene, directing the attending parties to place splints on a hapless person who had fallen from the tower – vacuum splints to hand, and wrist on opposite arms, ankle and lower leg on opposite legs, pelvic splint and for extra good measure a Cervical Collar.
  3. Lower Terrace area (of the former Worsley New Hall site); Deputy Team Leader Rick Lane of Cheshire SART, with a close search / evidence exercise – find the Cheshire SART team badge of various sizes from 2 inches across to miniscule, in the brambles and long grass – shoulder to shoulder evidence search pattern.
  4. Lower Terrace area (of former Worsley New Hall site); Team Leader Simon Lane of Cheshire SART, ‘marking out’ a search area boundary in the dense Rhododendron and Birch thicket – using the excellent and very effective reflective marker wands used by Cheshire SART team.
  5. Island in Middlewood Lake, former bridge site; Mark Susca of Cheshire SART, overseeing one short but very steep muddy slope, one exercise casualty, one metal basket stretcher, and the obvious task of getting the exercise casualty up and down the slope, which got slippier and slippier as the evening progressed.
  6. Island in Middlewood Lake, inside the brick grotto, quickly nicknamed ‘Moonbase Alpha’ by Tuesday’s planning team members ; an obstacle course inside and outside the tight confines of the ‘igloo’ like brick grotto, with Bolton MRT Martin Battersby watching over the scenario and how six groups would each go on to use a different technique in getting the exercise casualty lay on a full length vacuum mattress around the chemical lightstick marked obstacle course!

Our Team Training Officer Alistair Greenough, who was working tonight, was there in spirit if not in person, or at least in the guise of the excellent exercise briefing notes given to each party, accompanying Martin Battersby’s map of the exercise area and sites.

Our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE depending on your viewpoint, either wandered aimlessly amongst the night time woods for a while, or visited each site to ensure the exercise was going to plan!

By 22.20hrs all six SAR parties had visited each of the six exercise scenario sites, and a car park RVP debrief ended the exercise, which had fulfilled its principle aim of getting both teams to fully integrate during a fun and busy exercise.

Thanks are due to the four very understanding exercise casualties who volunteered their time tonight, and put up in various cases with lying in the mud – ok on a karrimat that slowly sank in to the mud, having endless amounts of very cold water put on ‘burns’ injuries, being manhandled in a very constrictive vacuum mattress, and being hauled endlessly up and down a slippy muddy slope; Andrew and Spike from our friends at North West 4×4 Response, Stephen Buckley (son of Howard Buckley, also NW 4×4 Response) and Jamie Ferguson, the fiancée of Bolton MRT Steve O’Hara’s daughter.

Twenty one Bolton MRT call out list and five Trainee team members joined by twenty seven Cheshire SART members took an active part in tonight’s exercise, which saw Bolton MRT deploy its four Land Rover Defender Mountain Rescue Ambulances plus our Incident Control Vehicle.

Post exercise, a small number of Bolton MRT and Cheshire SART members met up in the John Gilbert Public House at Worsley to further socialise and plan the Bolton MRTs impending visit to Cheshire SART in summer, when they are kindly holding a reciprocal joint exercise in Delamere Forest.
Finally thanks are due to Mike Dunn, Jill and Phil Rigby of Middlewood Scout Camp, Worsely, who had kindly granted us permission to exercise within the excellent venue of the Scout Camp.