Search and Rescue: Our community is in safe hands

Volunteers have been learning about how to care for any Mountain Rescue casualty
Volunteers have been learning about how to care for any Mountain Rescue casualty

As the evenings have been drawing in the volunteers of Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team have shelved their usual head torches, thermals and boots in favour of medical books, rescue equipment and scenario role play.

Over the last three months the teams training time has been solely focused on how to care for any casualty they could encounter in the context of Mountain Rescue, whether they are injured or unwell.

The ultimate aim is for team members to obtain their Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW) Casualty Care Certificate. This qualification allows CVSRT members who are not medical professionals, to give injured or unwell casualties treatments and medications which can be lifesaving and symptom relieving.

Many of these treatments are the same as or adaptations of what a paramedic would perform if the ambulance was able to get to the patient easily.

The MREW Casualty Care qualification must be renewed and revalidated every three years, so for many team members this training is revision, but for a significant number of newer members, the knowledge and skills are all new. It is important to remember that the majority of our team members all have other jobs that are not within the medical profession.

The training follows the broad but detailed MREW Casualty Care syllabus covering everything from broken ankles to heart attacks, major trauma to unwell children.

Team members find the training challenging yet stimulating whilst they learn and develop the skills required to look after all casualties until they can be handed over to medical professionals either at the roadside or in hospital.

The training over recent months has included; lectures from external experts who have kindly given their time to teach the team; skill sessions focussing on particular pieces of medical equipment and practical scenarios to consolidate the knowledge and skills.

CVSRT members have studiously attended all the Tuesday evening sessions, extra weekend training, studied hard at home and attended a weekend for the all important exams.

The training and revision is all geared towards passing the final assessments that were arranged for the end of November. During these assessments team members get to prove to external assessors that they have acquired the required level of knowledge and skills to cope with whatever a casualty may be unfortunate enough to succumb to in a realistic outdoor setting.

This means that not only do the CVSRT volunteers have to cope with the exam pressure of remembering all their new knowledge and skills, they must be able to use it despite the inclement weather.

The assessment weekend consists of a 40 question written assessment and then successful completion of two practical scenarios, one based around traumatic injuries and one focusing on medical illness.

These scenarios are examined by a variety of external medical professionals who all understand the work of Mountain Rescue and the level of care that can be provided by MREW Casualty Carers.

The great news is that all the hard work of team members has paid off because, by the end of Sunday’s exams, 35 members of CVSRT had successfully passed their exams and will now be entered onto the national Casualty Care register for the next three years.

This allows CVSRT to continue to provide a high quality of care to the unfortunate casualties that become unwell or injured within Calderdale and beyond.

This amazing achievement would not be possible without the support and knowledge of the external speakers, mentors and examiners, the support of our families and friends but most importantly the hard work and dedication of the volunteers that make up CVSRT.