Incident 23/2016 – missing man at Blackleach Country Park, Hill Top, Walkden

At 17.55hrs this evening the team was paged by Greater Manchester Police, regarding an urgent search requirement for an 86 year old man from Farnworth, who had been reported missing by family members, after he had gone out to walk his dog and his car had subsequently been found at a car park very near to Blackleach Country Park at Hill Top, Walkden, Worsley.

The call was answered by our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE, who gathered details, and within the teams Call Out Contact group quickly arranged for drivers for some of our team vehicles.

A full team call out page was made at 18.09hrs, with our Team Leader arriving at the Blackleach Country Park Area at 18.20hrs, having already requested the teams Trailing Search Dog to attend (Handler Steve Nelson confirming his attendance within the hour)

Here Garry me with responding GMP Officers and PCSOs who had just begun arriving, alongside concerned family members and neighbours of the missing man, who had already started searching for him and his dog, within the extensive Blackleach Country Park area, which includes scrubland, dense woodland and a large reservoir.

As Garry was liaising with the Police and family members, and awaiting the arrival of his team colleagues, at circa 18.31hrs bike patrol PCSO Derek Thomas (a former Bolton MRT Support Group Chairman, and now equally well known to team members in his PCSO role) whilst out searching in the country park, located the missing 86 year old, collapsed but conscious, being comforted by his dog.

News of the find, in an area of woodland, near to the extensive path network in the country park, saw family members and Police / PCSOs immediately go to his aid.

As the first of Garry’s colleague team members were arriving, news came quickly that a stretcher evacuation was required, and via radio initially at 18.33hrs all responding team vehicles were informed to respond immediately to the RVP, set up by the Equipe Garage on Worsley Road North, Hill Top, Walkden.

At 18.36hrs a pager message to team members confirmed the search was now an urgent casualty evacuation.

Our first team vehicle arrived at the RVP at 18.47hrs quickly followed by our second vehicle, with equipment being off loaded quickly.

Meanwhile at what was now the casualty site, Police, PCSOs, family members and neighbours had started to tend to the man, including many Police Officers placing their jackets on and around the hypothermic man to keep him warm (It was very cold, around 3c)

By 18.50hrs a mixed party of MRT, and the first responding NWAS Paramedic, all guided by PCSO Derek Thomas left the RVP to head with vital equipment to the casualty site.

Our Incident Control Vehicle then arrived at the RVP and a control point was set up in this vehicle to co-ordinate the incident.

To guide later arriving team members to the scene, through the myriad of paths in the dark, a trail of coloured chemical light sticks was laid by Garry and team member Michael Wakerley (all recovered afterwards so no litter left!) as they journeyed to the casualty site.

By circa 19.00hrs the first MRT members and the NWAS Paramedic was on scene, and assessing the man, who by 19.20hrs was placed on to our Bell Mountain Rescue Stretcher for a stretcher evacuation back to the waiting NWAS Emergency Ambulance.

Family members, the mans neighbours and Police / PCSOs on scene all very kindly assisted us by carrying our kit, whilst the team members concentrated on carrying the stretcher.

By 19.40hrs the man was in the NWAS Emergency Ambulance being further assessed and warmed up, which then departed for Royal Bolton hospital at around 19.50hrs.

After packing away kit and a quick ‘hot debrief,’ the last Bolton MRT personnel left the RVP at 20.27hrs.

On scene we had been warmly thanked for our attendance and role in this search and rescue by the mans family, including his two sons and his neighbours who had themselves all rallied round to search for him.

In turn we wish to state our part was a collective one, alongside these kind people, the Police Officers and PCSOs who were all out searching for him.

Family and neighbours revealed that we had ‘rescued’ a former and quite famous Bolton Wanderers and England football player!

The following Emergency Services resources were all directly involved in the search and rescue of this man;

  • Greater Manchester Police; Divisional patrol Officers from Bolton Central Police Station, including at least three PCs and three Sergeants, two Bike Patrol PCSOs from Little Hulton Police Station and one Bike Patrol Officer from Farnworth Police Station.
  • NWAS (Greater Manchester Area); One Rapid Response Vehicle with a solo crew Paramedic, one Emergency Ambulance with two crew.
  • Bolton Mountain Rescue Team; Three Land Rover Defender Mountain Rescue Ambulances, call signs ‘Bolton Mobiles 1,2 and 4,’ Ford Transit Minibus Ambulance, call sign ‘Bolton Mobile 5,’ and our Incident Control Vehicle, call sign ‘Bolton Mobile 6,’ sixteen call out list members on scene with one further team member stood down responding. (Our Trailing Search Dog did not subsequently attend due to the person being found at an early stage)