“Professional is not a label you give yourself – it’s a description you hope others will apply to you”.
Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team recently took the opportunity to undergo a peer review of all the operational aspects of the team. Three peer reviewers were invited to the Calder Valley from Central Brecon Mountain Rescue Team (South Wales), Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team (North Wales) and Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team (North Yorkshire) and spent a weekend with the team.
CVSRT is a very proud team who strive to provide the highest level of search and rescue response to the community in support of the statutory emergency services. Each member is required to train, attain and maintain a set of core skills as outlined by Mountain Rescue England and Wales. All team members are volunteers who work (or are retired) and live within our operational area. Whilst members may be volunteers, it is extremely important that the emergency response we provide is completely professional with the care of the casualty as paramount and the safety of fellow team members at the heart of everything we do.
The review was spread over three days of a weekend in April, running from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon. It is designed to be an interrogative experience, based on a set of 96 questions and subsequent coaching interactions, culminating on the third day with a simulated callout to demonstrate the team in action. The ultimate purpose of the review is to ‘hold a mirror’ up for teams to assess, evaluate and grow from constructive feedback from fellow mountain rescuers.
Tim Cain (peer reviewer from Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team) explains: “My vision is that peer review becomes the gold standard culture of continuous improvement within and between rescue teams.”
Despite the peer review, CVSRT obviously remained available for callouts to assist the emergency services.
At 4.26am on the Friday morning (prior to the review), CVSRT members received a request from West Yorkshire Police to assist with an on going search for a high-risk vulnerable person who was reported missing in the Wyke area.
Fifteen team members plus Search dog Meg assisted the police with searching and clearing areas of interest for six hours with no conclusion. The missing person was later found safe by a member of the public, outside the search area.
On Sunday just as members were concluding the peer review, CVSRT were alerted by Yorkshire Ambulance Service to an incident involving a walker who had slipped on a moorland track at Goose Green near Wainstalls, sustaining a lower leg injury. Thirty five team members (plus one peer reviewer) responded immediately and made their way to the location whilst Sarloc Rescue was used to pinpoint the casualty’s exact location.
Within 20 minutes, the team had located the casualty, provided pain relief and box splinted her leg. Once comfortable, the lady was packaged and stretchered off the moors and handed over to the ambulance crew. Whilst waiting for the ambulance to arrive on scene, Search Dog Meg with handler Pete Farnell provided additional casualty care (pet therapy), which had a notable affect to reduce the casualty’s pain score. Well done Meg!
CVSRT Chairman, David Warden concluded: “Even though the peer review weekend with two callouts was a challenging process, it was worthwhile and enjoyable, and we hope to see the benefit in the coming months and years. Whilst the weekend was rigorous, that was probably the easy bit. The next step is to receive the written feedback from the reviewers and then for the team to analyse and apply any recommendations into our procedures and, hopefully, continually improve the teams effectiveness.”