Nine Team members complete first weekend of two weekend long Swiftwater Rescue Technician Training Course

This wintry evening saw the completion of two –very cold, and very wet days, training by nine team members, who took part in an accredited  Swiftwater Rescue Technician course, to enhance the skill levels already present within the Bolton MRT membership, and for some members, to recertify their competencies.

The following account of the weekend has been provided by Bolton MRT Equipment Officer – Water David Cook;

“Further to recent flooding events within the North West of England during the recent months, the team has decided to up-skill the operational capability of our Water Team members.

This involves training to DEFRA Module 3 which is a qualification known as “Swiftwater Rescue Technician”

On Saturday 16th January nine of our Water Team members : Nick Berry, Ged Clarke, Equipment Officer – Water Dave Cook, Michael Eddleston, Deputy Team Leader Chris Greenhalgh, Equipment Officer Communications and Lighting – Steve Fletcher, Chairman Craig Lamb, Steve O’Hara and Geoff Seddon met up at our Ladybridge Hall Base / Headquarters with their instructors for the weekend – Team Leader, Paul Chamberlain of Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue, and MPSRO Regional Water Officer, Kev Garvey of Rossendale and Pendle MRT.

Saturday morning was several sessions covering river hydrology, use and maintenance of “Water Kit”, knots and tensioning systems, and much more theory – but after lunch the team eventually got their feet wet – and very cold. A short drive to Irwell Vale was the scene for basic individual wading skills and then group wading and casualty recovery skills and two acted out rescue scenarios.

An early start on Sunday morning saw a moderate snow fall and the group travelling to Devil’s Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale for some more practical exercises in the River Lune. Here the bar was raised with much faster flowing water, underwater hidden rocks and even colder water – this time with chunks of ice floating around! After an essential Bacon Butty breakfast it was time to enter the very cold water – at much amusement of the local walkers in the area. Deployment of throw lines, aggressive and defensive swimming, tethered rescue swims were all covered along with several acted out scenarios – the highlight being the last of the day where a depressed male exercise casualty was placed on the far bank of the river. “Pre-planned by Paul and Kev” negotiations were never going to achieve anything and he jumped in the water – and was “text book” recovered by the downstream rescue team.

The team travelled to both training venues in our Land Rover ‘Bolton Mobile 4’ and our Ford Transit Personnel Carrier ‘Bolton Mobile 5’ and it is fair to say that the vehicle heaters were on full blast for both journeys back to our base and that all Water Team members have now thawed out.

All of the Bolton MRT Water Team express their thanks to their instructors Paul and Kev for their excellent tutelage over the weekend and their “not afraid to get wet and cold” hands on attitude.

The team shall be training again in February on the River Dee at Llangollen for the second weekend in the qualification, and after this hopefully Bolton MRT should have nine Swiftwater Rescue Technicians.

On Friday 15th January 2016, our Deputy Team Leader Chris Greenhalgh, had spent a large part of the day in the company of Paul Chamberlain of Norfolk LSART, carrying out a reconnaissance of various possible venues for Saturdays exercise, travelling to River Irwell venues at Lumb, Irwell Vale and Edenfield, in our ‘Bolton Mobile 3’ Land Rover.

Paul Chamberlain stayed in accommodation in Bolton, overnight Friday and Saturday, being visited at the Beehive, Lostock, on Saturday night, by our Treasurer Martin Banks (somebody had to pay Pauls hotel bill!) and our Training Officer Alistair Greenough.