Team members take part in fourth MPSRO SAR-H Helicopter Training session today

Our regular readers will be aware that April 1st 2015 saw the start of the disbandment and wind down of the RAF, Royal Navy / Fleet Air Arm / HMCG existing UK Helicopter Search and Rescue provision, and its total civilianisation under a new long lasting contract, organised by HM Government, under Bristow Helicopters, operated and co ordinated by HM Coastguard.

Brand new state of the art latest generation SAR helicopters, some new location arrangements and all new base / hangerage facilities are nearing total completion nationally, as a phased handover from the existing military / HMCG provision which commenced with RAF ‘E’ Flight, 202 Squadron RAF Leconfield, flying the familiar Sea Kings, standing down on 31st March, and handing over to the new Sikorsky S92A airframes of Bristow / HMCG on 1st April 2015 operating out of Humberside International Airport.

Bristow / Humberside now covers the MPSRO region, as well as the Yorkshire Dales, PDMRO, NESRA and southern parts of the LDSAMRA mountain rescue regions.

IMG_0927With the change over from the largely Sea King SAR helicopter existing provision to the two new SAR helicopter types, all MRT members in England, Wales and Scotland, alongside other agencies such as HMCG Teams, RNLI and similar, have been undergoing specific awareness training (known as Stage 1A, 1B and 1C) to gain familiarity with the two new SAR Helicopter types.

Such a vast undertaking is now progressing well nationally and our readers may recall that on Wednesday 28th January 2015, the first thirty MRT members from MPSRO regional MR teams travelled to Humberside International Airport to undertake their training.

Attending in January from Bolton MRT, was our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE – never one to; 1 miss a helicopter flight opportunity and 2 add a new aircraft type to all he has ever flown in! Call Out Contact Mike Marsh, Equipment Officer Paul Copley, Michael Eddleston, Gary Melia and John Dickinson

(Please see website ‘News’ report dated Wednesday 28th January 2015 for an account of this day)

IMG_0936Tuesday 24th February 2015, saw the second day of training for MPSRO member teams, with the venue changing to the more local to us site of Bolton Scout Trust, Bibbys Farm Campsite, Limbrick, Chorley (used by the Bolton MRT for our Annual Foundation Course in Mountain Rescue October weekend)

The following Bolton MRT members attended for this second day of training; Deputy Team Leader Chris Greenhalgh, Equipment Officer – Medical Nigel Booth, Phil Horner, Ken Oakes, Mark Scott, Trainee member Neil Haigh, Equipment Officer – Vehicles Neil Aspinall, David Crawford, Life Vice President Alan James, Steve O’Hara, Trainee member Heath Doran and Trainee member Rasti Schweizer.

Please see website ‘News’ report dated Tuesday 24th February 2015 for an account of this day.

Saturday 28th February 2015 saw the third day of MPSRO / MRT member team training with the new helicopter, with the venue once again being Bolton Scout Trust, Bibbys Farm Campsite, Limbrick, Chorley.

IMG_0949The following Bolton MRT team members attended for this third day of training; Diane Blakeley, David Cook, Webmaster Paul Brain, Ged Clarke, Trainee member Matthew Morris, Tony Dawson, Equipment Officer – IT and Communications Steve Fletcher, Training Officer Alistair Greenough, DVSD Dog Handler Dave Marsh, Kris Kilshaw, Gill Leigh, Michael Wakerley, Chairman Craig Lamb, Kris Kilshaw, Michael Wakerley and Phil Crook (our Support Group members Sarah Hindle and Lauara Tunnicliffe were also flown, as thanks from the aircrew for their catering help and support on this third day of training)

Please see website ‘News’ report dated Saturday 28th February 2015 for an account of this day.

Today saw the fourth day of MPSRO / MRT member team training with the new helicopter, with the venue returning to Humberside International Airport.

At 06.50hrs this morning, team members Geoff Seddon, Nick Berry, Samantha McKay and Martin Battersby all met up at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ to journey together to Humberside International Airport, joining colleagues from fellow MPSRO teams, Bowland Pennine MRT, Rossendale and Pendle MRT, Calder Valley SRT and Holme Valley MRT, plus some members from Irish Mountain Rescue.

IMG_0947The four travelled in our Ford Transit Minibus Ambulance, radio call sign ‘Bolton Mobile 5,’ being joined in transit by our Treasurer Martin Banks who travelled independently.

Arriving at 09.10hrs for the 09.30hrs welcome and start, all five from our team and their eighteen MRT fellow colleagues undertook the following training;

3x indoor sessions, in three groups in the hanger covering the following topic areas, each group rotating around each session;

  1. The mechanics of the air craft by the pilot / Captain covering the systems of the airframe,
  2. Internal training covering seating, exits, loading, the brace position, lighting and communications,
  3. Winching protocols including the theory of high lining

Following a short break all twenty three present then went out on to the tarmac in the perfect blue sky and warmth to undertake winching and flight familiarisation, with the Sikorsky S92A G-MCGH airframe, with team members being single strop and double strop winched, up in to the aircraft and back down again.

A demonstration of high lining was also undertaken by the aircrew, though no Bolton MRT members present were able to practice it, due to time constraints.

By 12.30hrs the training day was completed, with every MRT member present today having covered all the contents of Stage 1B training with many having also covered most aspects of Stage 1C training.

The five Bolton MRT members present for their training today would like to express their sincere thanks to the Bristow / Coastguard air crew attending, who were as welcoming and enthusiastic to pass on their knowledge as with the previous three MPSRO exercises;

Finally thanks are expressed to Mike Park MREW SAR –H Migration Group, SPoC (Single Point of Contact) and our MPSRO Regional SAR-H representatives Andy Haigh of RPMRT and Kev Camplin of BPMRT, who have together organised and co-ordinated the provision of this training and will do similar for the fifth scheduled  training event for MPSRO teams on Saturday 24th October 2015 – at which we have four team members attending, and the sixth training event on Saturday 14th November 2015.