Probationary members put their skills to the test

Calder Valley Search and Rescue
Calder Valley Search and Rescue

Calder Control, this is ‘Charlie One’ requesting Helimed 99 for night air evacuation…

High Brown Knoll, 21:30hrs

“Calder Control, Calder Control; this is Exercise Charlie One requesting an exercise helimed for a subject with a suspected MI at grid reference Sierra Echo 0098 3042. Over.”

“Control to Exercise Charlie One, Helimed 99 is en route to your location. ETA 30 minutes. Over”

“Control, just to confirm; actual Helimed 99 en route, not an exercise helimed? Over.”

“Correct, prep a landing site. Out.”

This was the point our evening suddenly became interesting. Tasked with finding four overdue Scouts and their leader, we’d trudged our way through the snow up to the trig point following their planned route. Our casualties were located in an emergency shelter, overdue as their leader had had a ‘funny turn’. While the nominated casualty carer set about dealing with the patient, the rest of us took care of the Scouts and came up with a plan. Normally, requesting a helimed at night was unheard of, but as the Yorkshire Air Ambulance had started flying at night and we needed our casualty evacuated as fast as possible, we figured why not ask. We were surprised when it was granted. A first for our team landing the air ambulance at night, let alone on top of a summit in full winter conditions.

The next 20 hours were to be the culmination of the past year of training, and our past six months on the call out list. With a range of mentors on site to assess our capability, we would take turns performing each specific role within the Search and Rescue Team across a variety of different scenarios – this was our final assessment before we were granted full team membership.

With our patient airborne, we walked the Scouts off the hill towards where we had arranged a rendezvous with a team vehicle. Re-united with their leader, who’d made a miraculous recovery in the back of the air ambulance, we debriefed on the scenario and awaited our next tasking. We were given a grid reference a few kilometres away and a specific route to take there.

But what would we find? Maybe we’ll be searching for a vulnerable missing person? Or a farmer who was showing early signs of heart failure and needed evacuation from his house to an ambulance? Or a Geocacher, who had fallen down a cascade and broken his ankle? How about someone who fell off a crag who was holding onto a tree and needed hauling back up? All pretty regular jobs for CVSRT, ones we’ve seen and trained for. The answer was all five scenarios - spaced out overnight and into the next day when we finally returned to base, stripped all our kit down, re packed the vehicles ready for a real callout, and then debriefed for the last time.

Thankfully we all passed our final assessment and qualified as full team members. For us, this is just the beginning. Though full team members now, we’ve only just started learning what it really means to be part of the mountain rescue family at CVSRT. Our best wishes go to the next batch of trainees who are about to start their training.

CVSRT would like to thank West Yorkshire Police and Yorkshire Air Ambulance for the assistance with the night evacuation. Thanks also to the staff at Hardcastle Crags for the use of their barn and Adrian and Kathryn Leach for the use of their farm. Finally, thanks to all the CVSRT members and active supporters group who helped and supported us during our final ‘Probie Assessment’ weekend.

Written by CVSRT Probationary Members (2017-18), Greg May, John Hickling, Matt Keyse and Tom Britten