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Bristow Technical Rearcrew Brave the Elements for Search And Rescue (SAR) Training

February 02, 2016

Equipped with ice axes, crampons, helmets, avalanche transceivers and shovels a team of nine winchmen paramedics and winch operators braved the elements in the Cairngorm Mountains for Mountain Skills training in early January 2016.

The two days of training focuses on safety within the mountain environment. It is designed to enhance participants’ awareness and avoidance of the hazards they may face when operating within the mountains, on steep ground and techniques used to increase their safety and that of others they may be assisting. The training aims to enhance a winchman’s safety once off the winch by increasing situational awareness within a mountain setting in both summer and winter.

Bristow Winchman Paramedic at Caernarfon SAR Rich Taylor says of the training: “It is a requirement for winchmen to undergo this training to maintain currency in mountain skills. The course is extremely beneficial for SAR rearcrew, teaching us valuable mountain skills to increase our own safety and that of others we may be called to assist.”

The training encompassed two key areas: mountain skills and awareness and the rescue of rock climbers suspended from ropes. The training covered topics ranging from safety on steep ground and slopes, rock falls and avalanche awareness and rescue to the equipment required and its use for the crew’s own safety.

“During training for the rescue of a ‘hung-up’ climber, we focused on awareness of the climber’s and mountaineer’s rope systems and equipment and the method used to safely affect their rescue; in particular we focused on priorities in the difficult rescue situation. We completed practical scenarios and held discussions focused on historic scenarios,” Taylor continued.