Recent Team History

Bolton Mountain Rescue Team’s workload has varied throughout the years. Take a look below and find out more about the sort of work that we have been doing in the 21st Century!


This year brought a significant decrease in the number of incidents that we responded to, with 74 incidents logged throughout 2011 as opposed to 113 the previous year.

Nevertheless there were several interesting “firsts” for Bolton MRT throughout the year, coupled with increasing work alongside the NWAS Hazardous Area Rescue Teams.

Perhaps our most memorable incident of the year occurred in February, which involved 26 Bolton MRT team members responding to an incident on Darwen Moor in the early hours in the morning – it was a baptism of fire for our twelve new trainee team members at the time! Two off-road vehicles had  become stuck on the moor and the occupants contacted Police at around midnight. Given the males were regarded as “safe” (i.e. in their warm vehicles) on the moor, the team was contacted later, just before 03:00AM, after the occupants were running out of fuel to keep warm with. The conditions on the moor were bitterly cold, foggy, windy and wet. Two team members in a team vehicle found the men at 05:00 in the morning (the men had no idea where they were, and were completely ill-equipped for the prevailing conditions). We opted to drive them off the moor in the team’s own vehicles after making a short-lived attempt to recover the vehicles which belonged to the stranded males. The entire operation involved the team for almost five and a half hours, and came to a conclusion at Darwen Police Station with eight very thankful, and rather sheepish males, who had luckily not succumbed to hypothermia.

In late April and early May, the team was called to assist the Lancashire and Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue services over three separate days (almost 48 hours time logged in total) whilst they fought the largest moorland wildfire that the country had seen for many years, on Anglezarke Moor.  Bowland Pennine MRT also assisted in a major capacity in the same incident.

The year also saw us involved in several interesting urban search and rescue incidents, which involved us abseiling into otherwise inaccessible locations in order to effect a swift rescue.

The team also took part in a major multi-agency standby rescue operation involving a male protester at the top of a tower crane in Eccles, which resulted in multiple road & metrolink tram closures in the surrounding area.

One interesting rescue operation this year was the night-time evacuation of a very seriously ill woman occupant of a narrow boat on the Leeds and Liverpool canal,
As with previous years we also dealt with the usual number of rambling, hill walking, climbing and horse riding accidents.


In total, 113 numbered incidents were recorded by the team this year , with a total of 138 distinct incidents attended making it our third busiest ever year – this increase being due to the 26 incidents attended by the team on January 5th 2010 (as a result of the snow causing a Major Incident declared by NWAS Manchester). These 26 incidents were recorded as one, 12/2010.

During this large scale, wide area deployment on January 5th 2010, the team was constantly active from 04:37 in the morning through to 17:40 in the evening; a most memorable day for those involved, with the assistance of Bolton MRT and of course many other MRTs surrounding the Manchester area earning considerable praise from Derek Cartwright, NWAS Director of Emergency Operations and Bob Williams, NWAS Deputy Chief Executive.

The team assisted NWAS further during the first half of January, with another 25 incidents attended directly due to the snowfall (as well as one standby for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, with vehicles holding at the M62 J.23, outside Halifax)

After a busy start to the year, February and March brought a much needed respite!

13 searches were attended through the year at the request of Greater Manchester Police and Lancashire Constabulary, and we were called out but stood down on another 8 searches. The largest search of the year came on Sunday 9th May, with 30 team members turning out to Queen’s Park, Bolton, to search for an elderly male who had gone missing from a local care home. Fortunately the man was found unharmed, albeit a considerable distance away from our search areas (in Astley Bridge), in the early hours of the morning.
The longest search (and longest incident of the year, aside from our prolonged assistance to NWAS on January 5th), was also in January, and spread over the first 2 days of the New Year. This saw the team searching for 8½ hours on both days. Sadly the body of the missing man was found in Rivington Reservoir a short time later.

2010 saw a number of “firsts” for the team’s Water Search & Rescue Unit. The team’s brand new 3.5m semi-rigid inflatable boat, purchased in May of this year, was deployed on 4 incidents this year.

In October the WSRU swiftly located the body of a missing male in water at Brinsop Hall, Westhoughton. Just a few days after this, members of the WSRU were deployed on an urgent search in Gorton, Manchester, after an abandoned bicycle was found by the edge of a very fast flowing wide stream at Sunny Brow Park. 4 WSRU team members searched the stream by wading, but nothing was found.

Throughout 2010, the team was supported in a number of ways by its colleagues in the statutory emergency services; whether it be NWAS Manchester, who (amongst many other things) offered to replenish the team’s fuel supplies after the assistance provided through the winter months. Greater Manchester Police supported the team’s application to Ofcom to join the Airwave Sharer’s List. Working with NWAS Lancashire and other local MRTs (Rossendale & Pendle MRT and Bowland Pennine MRT), we agreed upon team area boundaries – complicated as they are in the South Lancashire area due to the convergence of the three team’s boundaries! High-level meetings were also held with Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, to discuss how the team could support the service over the coming years.

We would like to thank all the emergency services we work alongside (control rooms, managers and road staff) including NWAS Manchester & NWAS Lancashire, Greater Manchester Police & Lancashire Constabulary, Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service and Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service, North West Air Ambulance (Helimed 08 & Helimed 72), RAF ‘C’ Flight 22sqn RAF Valley, and other MRTs & SRTs.

Of course we must also mention the fantastic assistance provided by members of the public on a number of incidents this year, whether it be simply guiding our vehicles in to an RV point, or carrying rescue equipment from the road to the scene of many accidents.


During 2009, the theme of 2008 continued with generally more rescue work than search work.

Included in this were a number of ‘standby’ incidents for the NWAS Lancashire & Manchester services at the start of the year due to wintry conditions; this pattern of work continued in the 2009/2010 winter season.

The snowfall in mid-December in the Greater Manchester area triggered many calls on the team, with our first ever callout on Christmas Day & multiple callouts on Boxing Day to New Year’s Eve 2009 also included incidents involving numerous body recoveries from water and two aircraft crash standbys.

In total we attended 103 incidents – which consisted of 137 separate incidents. Including another first for the Team, 2 searches for 2 different people, not connected, but in the same location.


Incidents during 2008 are now showing that the team has fallen in to a broad pattern of more rescue work and less search work than in previous years.

The reasons behind this are many and varied including ever stronger links with NWAS and more refined search protocols leading to the teams involvement.

Of the searches we were involved in this year it is worth noting that our team can now call on the services of a SARDA trail dog alongside the more familiar SARDA air-scenting dogs. Regards rescues in this year we had a wide and varied workload some of which involved a multi-agency approach with a great many involving the air ambulance (and one involving a Royal Air Force Sea King helicopter).

Within our search and rescue role we were engaged in a number of body recovery operations as well as dealing with serious trauma on rescue incidents.

We continue to directly assist NWAS (Manchester) with the provision of specialists crews and our vehicles during certain peak demand periods on their service as well as more general assistance during periods of wintry driving conditions.


Another year breaking all previous records with the number of incidents attended. As in previous years, a very wide and varied range of incidents was dealt with including the high-profile local search for missing Lostock man John Nuttall, whose body was sadly discovered outside the search areas some time after our involvement.

A large volume of our workload arose from direct assistance calls as in previous years due to step-up resource demands originating with the North West Ambulance Service (Greater Manchester Area) who called on the team many times, planned and unplanned, due to service demands both in the working week at evenings and weekends, with the team being able to respond in some capacity to all calls for its assistance.

We also dealt with the usual frequent workload of rural and semi-urban calls, assisting the NWAS Greater Manchester Area and Lancashire Area where ambulance crews to gain access to casualties, but requested our specialist evacuation assistance to transfer casualties to responding ambulances.

A great many of our incidents involved us in multi-agency responses involving fire, police, ambulance and sometimes airborne emergency resources.


This proved to be our busiest year to date for incidents, breaking the previous record only set last year. The usual varied range of incidents was dealt with in our upland and lowland operating areas, including the high profile search with a sad outcome for a missing boy in the Bury area in March. Other notable searches this year included the intensive search in the North Cheshire area for the Reverend Michael Robinson, resulting in the sad location of his body and the large scale search co-ordinated by the team for a missing man in the Wigan area, in the early part of July, again ultimately with a sad outcome.

A large volume of our workload arose from direct assistance calls to the North West Ambulance Service (Greater Manchester Area) who called on the team many times, planned and unplanned, due to service demands at the time of the World Cup and over the festive Christmas and New Year periods.


Well 2005 concluded with an amazing 135 separate incidents that the teams’ services had been called upon to offer assistance, making this our busiest ever year to date.
Incidents dealt with went right across the spectrum of calls we now regularly receive and demonstrate the very close working relationship we now have with our colleagues in the Police, Fire and Ambulance Services alongside calls to assist other Mountain Rescue Teams.

By far the greatest user of the teams services is Greater Manchester Ambulance Service who called on us an amazing 79 times in 2005, 55 of these calls being in direct assistance of GMAS at peak demand times, when very detailed and pre arranged plans for such usage of the Bolton MRT, (and Oldham MRT, BRCS, and SJAB) were brought into play.
When talking of incidents it should be remembered that the team also provided on scene Standby Rescue Cover at 14 separate hill events (fell races mainly) throughout 2005 as in other years, where no incidents happened but the team was present “just in case”. These Standby Rescue Covers are not included in our 135 incident total.


2004 concluded almost at midnight with 96 incidents recorded, right across the whole spectrum of work that we are now involved in.

We commenced the year with 10 incidents in direct support of GMAS in the early hours of New Year’s Day, with incidents recorded in every month of the year. There were a number of days when we had multiple searches and/or rescues taking place, including 2 days when we had 3 spot pickups on each of the days (Sunday 22nd August and Boxing Day 26th December).

As usual we dealt with a number of Road Traffic Accidents on our moorland roads, most of which involved motorcyclists. We also dealt with 7 off-road motorcycle incidents – so motorcyclists appear to be our main incident ‘clients’. In total over the year, we were called to assist 109 persons.

To date, 2004 turned out to be our third busiest year since formation in 1968.


2003 saw our busiest year ever with 102 total incidents, including for the first time, call outs to incidents initiated by Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service. Another first was two calls to Hot Air Balloon crashes (or “controlled forced landings” as we subsequently found out). As ever we had our usual numbers of Mountain Bike incidents, off-road motorcycle incidents and moorland road traffic accidents to deal with, alongside our usual “customers”. In a sign of the times, towards the end of the year another first was notched up when the Team was put on standby to assist GMAS for a Major Incident in Bolton, involving an explosive device.

Our longest operation of the year, was our involvement in Warrington, for Cheshire Constabulary, following the disappearance of a 17 year old girl. Over 5 days, we provided 68 man days of search input amounting to 775 man hours.

Two other first also took place, our being called out to directly assist GMAS during a peak demand situation (aside from our usual New Years Eve / New Years Day assistance) and a call to assist British Transport Police with a search for a person, believed hit by a train.


2002 turned out to be a very busy year, with summer dominated by our considerable involvement in the M2002 Commonwealth Games Cycling events around Rivington. (We were even mentioned in the New Zealand Herald, concerning our involvement in assisting a seriously injured Kiwi competitor!). Games aside, we were called to the usual mix of incidents, ranging from mountain bikers to off-road motorcyclists, ramblers coming to grief, and moorland road traffic accidents.

Search Dog Chi had his first two working finds this year, both involving the same person, who went missing on two occasions. Sadly, on the 2nd search, the person was tragically found dead.

A number of body recoveries were also undertaken this year, including our 4 day involvement assisting CSI of GMP with a difficult body recovery operation, on the “Cliff”, Salford.
All in all, 2002 was a busy and varied year, which saw us working alongside not just our usual colleagues in the Ambulance, Police, and Air Ambulance services, but also GMCFS.


Our incident figures for 2001 were lower than normal, reflecting the closure of much of the local countryside and uplands due to foot and mouth.

We were still kept busy with 59 incidents of varied types, ranging from lowland search operations to multi agency emergency responses to serious incidents. Notable incidents included the rescue of a young boy and girl at night time, who had both fallen over an estimated sheer 40 foot drop, overlooking the River Irwell. This rescue involved the team in a central role alongside multiple resources from GMFS, GMAS, and GMP, including their helicopter. Three serious mountain bike incidents dealt with in the latter part of the year reflect the growing popularity of our team upland area for mountain biking.


The team attended 92 operational incidents and callouts in the year 2000, these included:

  • A serious quarry accident
  • Searches for missing children
  • Assisting the ambulance services in wintry weather
  • Snow sledging accidents
  • Difficult evacuation incidents
  • New Years Celebration incidents
  • Injured hill walkers, climbers & mountain bikers

The team also played a central role in a night time search to locate a missing helicopter on the local moorlands. Tragically the three persons onboard were killed in this crash.