Training Officer Report:-Trainee Mid-Assesment Weekend

The following report was written by our Training Officer Michael Wakerley.

On Friday 15th & Saturday 16th our new batch of Trainees were put through their paces by demonstrating on the hill, the skills they have taken on board since they joined the team 6 months ago.

Friday began with the trainees arriving at base for around 19:30 and I can only say I have never seen such a nervous bunch!… I think they were expecting a tough evening.  The original plan for the evening had changed slightly due to the operational team being on a call out alongside Rossendale & Pendle MRT, Oldham MRT and Coastguard Helicopter from Caernarvon.

However the evening went on and with the assistance of one of our operational team members Mike Marsh the trainees were given a tabletop search exercise before out of the blue they all received an exercise callout via SARCALL.  Eager they jumped to their feet, kitted up and out the Door!

IMG_0611.JPGThe scenario briefing was a Male fallen from a tree in the woodlands around the Rivington Gardens.  With darkness drawing in the team split-up into their party roles and headed out from control leaving a few team members behind to bring up any additional equipment the exercise cas site may require.  The trainees came across a male casualty in a difficult position at the base of a tree, with casualty handling and safe evacuation the team managed to get the exercise casualty back to control location were we all headed back to base for a rest.

Saturday was a bright and early start, well an early start anyway.  With a bit of mist and light drizzle the trainees were in for a long day, the plan for the day was for the trainees to navigate to set checkpoints across the teams area, with some of the checkpoints having an exercise station to allow them to show the skills in which they have taken on since they started, these included Search, Crime Scene Management, Casualty Handling/Evacuation, BLS/CPR, Water Awarness and Ropework.

The first station along their route started at Wilderswood were the team members conducted a search for a missing person.  The trainees organised themselves well and commenced their exercise with a ‘Hasty/Fast’ Party Search, a search technique used to cover an area very quickly.  Part way through the exercise while I was with one part of the group I overheard the others in the woodland talking to someone… At this point I thought they had found a real casualty, so I shot up the hill only to find they had stumbled across our very own Matt Hailwood, Matt being on form decided to improvise and take on the role of a member of the public taking his dog for a walk… I can only say that Matt should win an award for his dramatic performance.  Part of the exercise also included the trainees assessing a potential exercise crime scene.

The next station the trainees navigated to, was dealing with a very uncooperative casualty who was suffering from chest pains.  On locating the casualty and assessing, the trainees evacuated the exercise casualty back to the road head across some very challenging muddy ground with plenty of were we had a vehicle waiting along with Team Member Steve James.  The exercise was not going to be as easy as a simple carry off, on arrival to the vehicles the exercise casualty added to his performance the impression that he was suffering a Cardiac Arrest, with this the trainees jumped straight into there BLS/CPR training were the exercise ended.

FullSizeRender(2)The trainees now had a few points to navigate which took them across the moors in boggy wet conditions until they arrived at the carpark near the Wards Reservoir (Known as Blue Lagoon).  This was a chance for the trainees to catch there breath and have some lunch before heading out to the next station.  While here we were visited by Local Ranger Andy Riding (an ex team member and training officer of the team) who wanted to see how things were going with the assessment and catch up with friends in the team.

Break over, the trainees were tasked to their 3rd station.  The briefing was that two intoxicated people had been spotted in the reservoir, the trainees with PFDs on and Trow lines in hand set-off, dishing out their equipment evenly they chose to split around the reservoir to cover ground more quickly, the first group came across two suspicious exercise casualties.

One casualty in the water and one casualty on the bankside, this is were the trainees had to put into practice their thrown line skills and bankside safety.  However this was not as easy as it sounds with the second of the exercise casualties deliberately being uncooperative and trying to get in the way of the trainees while they were performing the rescue, in this situation it called for a couple of the trainees to try and distract the second exercise casualty and keep him away and safe.

FullSizeRender(4)The roles of the intoxicated exercise casualties were played by non other than Team Members Dave Cook & Steve Fletcher who played the roles extremely well… Maybe a little too well…Hmmmmmm.  I did not realise we had such a talented bunch of actors in the team, I have signed us all up for the next Christmas Panto!…Team Leader playing the role as Widow Twankey maybe?

On completion and safe evacuation of the intoxicated casualties the trainees headed off to there final task which found them over at High Shores Gully, the trainees now had to put into practice a basic twin line Lower and Raise system to evacuate a casualty stranded at the bottom of the Gulley, Mike Marsh acting as the casualty was raised safetly to the top of the Gulley and on completion of this the day was over!….to the relief of many after being out on the hills all day!

A quick debrief biscuits and brews back at base and it did not take me long to decide that I was happy with everyones performance they had put into there assesment and training that we were happy to take all 9 trainees onto the next 6 months of training alongside the operational team.

I would like to thank the Trainees for their efforts and to all the operational team members who have assisted during their last 6months of training.  These trainees will now join the team for the next 6 months until their final assessment which will take place in Wales in February 2017 in which I wish them the best of luck!

On completion of their final assessment they will join the operational team who voluntarily give up their time to serve the community 24/7, 365 days a year, anytime and all weathers!