Calder Valley Search and Rescue Column

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Tea, cakes and a rescue operation on the moors were in store for 12 candidates hoping to become part of the Calder Valley Search and Rescue (CVRST) team.

Twenty-five aspiring members of the public attended our open evening on January 17 at The Rescue Post, (CVSRT base in Mytholmroyd).

This purpose of the evening was to allow applicants the opportunity to find out more information about what is involved and what is expected of an operational full team member.

From those attendees, the team invited a shortlist of candidates to participate in daylong hill assessment to determine their capability and suitability to progress onto the 2017-18 training programme.

On January 30, the 12 candidates arrived for a challenging day on the hill in the hope of gaining a place as one of this year’s trainee members.

On the day, the weather forecast was grim with low cloud cover, poor visibility and persistent rain making conditions difficult underfoot but perfect for testing candidate’s navigational and hill skills.

The day started with a personal hill kit check to make sure they were suitably equipped for a full day on the hill.

Following this was a quick ascent of Daisy Bank, Mytholmroyd to warm everyone up.

The candidates were split into small groups with five operational CVSRT members to monitor their skills, and away they went into the wind and rain to demonstrate their navigation and hill skills.

All groups met up at Withens Clough reservoir at lunchtime and were treated to a hot brew and some well deserved pies and cakes, before swapping groups and heading onto the moors again for the afternoon.

The afternoon passed and by 5pm all groups met up at Withens Gate for a rest while we waited for darkness to fall.

By this point of the day, everyone was familiar with each other and there was definitely a sense of camaraderie developing.

As the light faded and night fell, groups were swapped again and we headed out into darkness to check people’s night navigation skills. This was cut short to assist the team with an ‘exercise callout’ - the evacuation of an injured walker at Stoodley Pike.

The candidates were instructed to make their way quickly to the Pike where several CVSRT members were waiting with a stretcher and a 40kg body dummy for the candidates to carry off. Safety first, so helmets and gloves on and then hands on the stretcher and away we go. Under the direction of deputy team leader Jonothan Cole, the candidates demonstrated excellent team working skills and carried the stretcher from Stoodley Pike to Swillington Farm where they were met by our emergency response vehicles.

A ride back to the base was a pleasant surprise, as most of the candidates expected a walk back to base.

Once back at The Rescue Post, the candidates washed the vehicles and packed the kit away before a well-earned brew and more cake!

A final debrief and the opportunity to reflect on how they felt their assessment went, before candidates were free to go home for a much needed hot bath and a warm up.

Our thanks to everyone that applied this year and to those that came for the hill assessment.

It was a tough day and the applicants were excellent, making selection very difficult. However, after much deliberation, seven people were selected from the 12 who started the day assessment.

Congratulations to Jess, Tommy, Matt, Greg, Tom, John and Ross who will now start our training programme in February. We will keep you posted on their progress.