Full report on Exercise Diamond Commander 15, held on Wednesday 14th October 2015

On Thursday 21st May 2015, we reported within our website ‘News’ section that In October 2015, 42 Brigade, British Army, would be involved in a Brigade exercise to test military preparedness in regards to providing aid to the civil community.

This ‘table top’ exercise would involve service personnel from 42 Brigade, Lancashire Constabulary and NWAS, amongst many other agencies, and would take the form of a two day exercise.

The planned exercise – ‘Diamond Commander 15’ had a theme of a major incident taking place during an inclement weather period in Lancashire, with Day 1 taking place in the Trough Of Bowland area and Day 2 taking place at a location within the primary operational area of Bolton Mountain Rescue Team.

At the time we were invited to take a part in this exercise on Day 2, and in this regards our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE met on Thursday 21st May 2015, at our Ladybridge Hall Base/HQ with Major Mick Turnbull, 42 Brigade, to discuss the exercise and the role Bolton MRT could contribute within it.

Our Team Leader at the time thanked Major Mick Turnbull for his obvious interest expressed during his visit to our Base / HQ in the work and role of Bolton MRT and our colleague teams in Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

Exercise Diamond Commander actually commenced on Tuesday 13th October 2015, with a major civilian aircraft incident in the Trough of Bowland during a prolonged period of heavy snowfall.

Our teams role was planned for Wednesday 14th October 2015, and involved the participation of our Deputy Team Leader Chris Greenhalgh and our Training Officer Alistair Greenough (Our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE had to tend his apologies)

They both left the Bolton area very early on Wednesday morning, 14th October, to attend the Fulwood Barracks, Preston, exercise location for the 2nd Day Exercise start at 08.30hrs, travelling in our Volkswagen Crafter van based Incident Control vehicle, radio callsign ‘Bolton Mobile 6.’

Within the overall continuing major incident exercise, given further snowfall and its ‘impact’ on local community resilience, there developed a need to evacuate some residents from Tockholes Village to the safety of Darwen.

Within the exercise this was tasked to Bolton Mountain Rescue Team, working in co-operation with military resources to jointly evacuate the residents.

There follows a report on the exercise from our Deputy Team Leader Chris Greenhalgh;

“Today Deputy Team Leader Chris Greenhalgh and Training Officer Alistair Greenough attended 42 Infantry Brigade Headquarters in Preston to represent the team in a large exercise which was taking place.

Exercise Diamond Commander 15 ran over the 13th and 14th October and the scenario was set in the context of a period of severe wintery weather in the Lancashire area.

The first part of the exercise involved a passenger plane crashing in the Trough of Bowland due to the weather, and then as the exercise progressed some residents in the village of Tockholes, which had been cut off by snow, needed evacuating.

A full command structure was set up within Fulwood Barracks and located at the exercise control, along with a large number of British Army personnel were representatives from Lancashire Constabulary , Lancashire Fire and Rescue service, North West Ambulance Service (Cumbria and Lancashire area) the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, Bolton Mountain Rescue Team, Blackburn with Darwen Local Authority and Lancashire County Council.

Along with their involvement in the exercise, Chris and Alistair were given a very thorough tour of all levels of the command structure whilst the exercise was underway, and observed all the meetings which took place, which gave them a very good insight of how a major incident of this nature would be managed.

Chris and Alistair along with Bolton Mountain Rescue Team would firstly like to thank Major Mick Turnbull for inviting them, and who also deserves our congratulations for organising such a successful exercise.

Our thanks also go to Major Mark Bridge and Major Helena Roberts who looked after Chris and Alistair throughout the day, giving a very detailed guided tour of the command structure and answering their many questions.

Finally we would like to thank all staff at 42 Infantry Brigade HQ and all the other agency representatives, for a very warm welcome and an enjoyable and informative day.”

Please also see website ‘News’ report dated Thursday 21st May 2015.