Core training – Introduction
The Team operates a comprehensive scheme, based around 10 core modules. These modules cover the main skills a team member needs to be safe and effective on the hill. The modules are taught either at training evenings, which are held twice a month, or at training days, which are held once a month. All of this training is put into practice on exercises, which simulate or replicate real incidents.
More detail on the modules is a follows:
Navigation and GPS
Every team member needs to be able to navigate to a high degree of accuracy in all weathers. The team operates in all weathers, at all times of year, and we need to know where we are and where we are going. Accurate navigation allows us to say with certainty the areas we have searched, allows us to confirm the location of a find and call in the equipment needed to treat and evacuate that find. Team training covers both theory and practical elements of navigation and we spend as much time as possible on the hill practicing.
The use of GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and ‘Sat Navs’ is common place in everyday life, and use within the Team is no different. Although GPS units are seen as a navigational aid, the Team primarily use the ‘track-log’ function of the units to record the areas searched. The units do have the ability to provide an accurate 10 figure grid reference which is useful to verify the navigator’s location, and therefore confirm the location of any find.
The Team operates Garmin GPS 60 dedicated units and ViewRanger software on smartphones.
As over half of the Teams call-outs are searches this is obviously a key training module. The Team train on the two main search techniques that are deployed – corridor searches and line searches, across a variety of terrains and vegetation covers.
Corridor searches involve the thorough searching of linear routes, such as paths, tracks, streams and forest breaks. Line searches are the thorough searching of large areas by team members walking in a line abreast.
The Team can be looking for any object from a mobile phone or wallet through to a large rucksack, or even a person, so our skilled need to be well honed.
Radio Equipment and Procedures
To ensure that the Team has robust and resilient communications, we operate with VHF radios. With these units we are able to talk within the Team, to other Mountain Rescue Teams and to other agencies such as the Coastguard – all of this in locations where the mobile phone networks do not reach.
The training teaches team members how to operate the units themselves and show members how to transmit messages that are timely, contain the correct content and are succinct.
Communications are vital to the Team, as it allows search parties to talk to control – advising locations, advising of any finds and any equipment that is required.
The Team operate Motorola Hand and Vehicle sets.
We also have access to Police and Ambulance Service communications systems.
During both real call-outs and exercises the Team will work alongside various helicopter services, including RAF Sea King from Leaconfield or Boulmer, and Air Ambulances, either Yorkshire or Great North.
Operating close to helicopters is potentially hazardous, so our training covers all aspects of working in, near and around the helicopters and how to remain safe. This all gets put into regular practice with joint exercises with the RAF.
Find Site Protocols
When we make a find, be it a person, an animal or an object the scene is known as the ‘find site.’ This location may simply be the site of an injured walker who needs help, or it may be a scene of crime, such as in the case of a suicide.
This module covers the specific roles in and around the find site, what roles the team members will perform and how they should behave. Above all it is our aim to keep a find site safe, secure and orderly, allowing the work that needs to be done to be carried out as smoothly as possible, whilst maintaining privacy, dignity, and if need be any scene of crime.
Basic Life Support
All Team Members must be proficient in the key elements of Basic Life Support. These are:
- Perform CPR
- Use Team Defibrillators
- Use Team Oxygen
These skills allow all team members to be able to perform initial care if presented with a collapsed casualty.
Immediate Casualty Care
This module teaches team members how to perform the rudiments of casualty care, such as arresting a bleed and dressing the wound, how to treat hypothermia and also trains team members how to best assist the qualified casualty carers.
Casualty and Stretcher Handling
Our finds physical positions and modes of injury are rarely straightforward. Injuries may be complex or be complicated by concerns over spinal injury. That said in a remote environment we need to move our finds, so we can get them on their way to definitive care.
Therefore we teach techniques that allow us to move our finds into splintage and onto our stretcher, whilst protecting against any further injury or worsening in their condition. Such techniques involve working in small groups, and rely upon well co-ordinated team work.
A good portion of the people we find will require physical assistance with their evacuation, and more often than not this will mean transportation on one of our stretchers.
The Team carry two types of stretcher – the Bell stretcher (a Mountain Rescue Stalwart) and the MIBS (Multiple Injury Body Splint).Both stretchers see regular active service and each is suited to particular circumstances, geographical constraints and injuries.
Team Members must be able to assemble and ready these for use quickly and safely, and know how to safely load the find onto them.
As with all Mountain Rescue Teams we have a range of rope systems designed to cope with a range of situations, from assisting a stretcher carry up a wet slippery bank, through to stretcher hauls up vertical faces.
Team members are expected to be able to assist with the setting up of these systems and also understand the safety precautions required when working with these rope systems.
The Team issue protective helmets to all Team Members and full body harnesses are carried by the Team.
The Team use Petzl Vertex Vent Helmets and Petzel Navaho harnesses.
The Team may be asked to operate in a variety of water related environments, such as searching along river banks or assisting in flood rescue work. This module covers the hazards of both still and moving water, and teaches members how to operate in a safe way.
This training is aligned with the DEFRA module 1 General water safety awareness training and basic land based rescue techniques.