CVSRT - Items filtered by date: March 2019

Last Saturday Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team held a ‘Core Skills Training Day’ at Blakedean Scout Hostel. Traditionally these have been an annual event, though we plan to have another this autumn, to supplement the weekly requirement for specialist training.

Whilst we are volunteers, all team members are highly trained to guidelines set by Mountain Rescue England & Wales. At the heart of these guidelines is a set of 10 core skills needed to operate safely as an effective emergency response, which each team member must demonstrate their capability each year.

The day was split into three sessions. The first a set of five short 25 minute round-robin stations, with small enough numbers to allow everyone to get hands on, covering abseiling, hypothermia packaging, protective equipment checking, set up of Incident Control Vehicle, and helicopter landing site selection and preparation (minus the helicopter unfortunately!).

For the second session team members were split into two groups to undertake a stretcher handling exercise and practice techniques to safely raise and lower stretchers on steep ground; snake belay, crocodile raise and walking ‘v’.

Just as the two groups were swapping activities the team received a request from Yorkshire Ambulance Service to attend a real callout. Within minutes of the call, 20 team members were enroute to assist with the evacuation of an injured walker above Bronte Falls, Stanbury (Incident 1156).

The remaining team members continued with the second activity, broke for lunch, and then got a head start on the last session of the day - a challenge (with prizes!) devised to test navigation, fitness and a selection of core skills.

Team members were paired up, given a sheet containing grid references, labelled as either gold (up to 20pts), silver (10pts) or bronze (5pts) checkpoints, and tasked with visiting at least three gold checkpoints and scoring as many points as possible in 2.5hrs (points lost for late returns). The sting in the tail was that at each gold checkpoint pairs had to demonstrate a core skill within a given time, and were scored according to their performance.

Team members returning from the callout enjoyed a much needed lunch before setting out for what was left of the hotly contested challenge. By 16:30 all pairs had returned and all that was left to do was verify the scores (the adjudicators decision was absolutely final), and award the prizes to the category winners.

Delivery of such a day is a huge undertaking which takes hours of planning by the organising group, and couldn’t happen without volunteers to lead sessions, man checkpoints and provide catering – thanks to you all.

Whilst returning vehicles to the Rescue Post we received our second callout of the day to assist Yorkshire Ambulance Service with the evacuation of an injured man who had fallen and sustained a head injury in Brearley Wood (Incident 1157).


Finn did well

08 Mar 2019

Yesterday saw the start of Cruft’s and a time of year when dogs of all shapes, sizes and uses hit our screens. For CVSRT, and many other Lowland Rescue and Mountain Rescue England and Wales teams, dogs trained as Search Dogs provide invaluable additional support year round.

Since the late 1980’s, CVSRT has been fortunate to benefit from a total of 16 dogs belonging to team members, and our four-legged friends have assisted with many missing person searches. One of those 16 dogs is Finn, a handsome Smooth Collie dog, who sadly passed away after a short illness in February.

After some time to grieve the sad loss of his special mate, handler Stephen Garofalo has written some words in tribute to Finn and the journey they shared. RIP Search Dog Finn.

“It all started in October 2007. Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team, of which I was a member, staged an exercise on television to try and attract new members. A couple of days later I received a phone call from Team Leader Andy Simpson saying he’d received a letter from Colne dog breeder, Pat Howarth, offering a Smooth Collie pup for training as a Search Dog. I accepted the offer.

The litter arrived on the 29th of December and on the 14th of February I picked my dog, Finn. He was a tri-coloured pup and I liked the fact that he was of a good size and affectionate. The time came where we took him home. He instantly took over the cat bed and during day light hours was very happy with his new surroundings. At night he missed his mother. Anyone who knew Finn will tell you that he was very vocal and he spent the small hours sharing his grief with the entire street! The solution was to spend that first week sleeping on my back with my right arm outstretched to the pup and woe betide me if I changed position!

I had a few problems in 2008. My wife left me, my old search dog Roy died, and I lost my job. I suppose things might have been worse, but Finns training suffered because I didn’t give him the time and attention a young dog requires. But, as with all things, I was able to recover and by January 2011 I arrived at a Search and Rescue Search Dogs Association (now Mountain Rescue Search Dogs England) assessment with a good strong dog. Finn was fast and rangy with a strong bark indication. He liked people and he definitely liked to bark - not a bad combination in a Search Dog. Consequently we had an easy assessment and got onto the call-out list with a strong pass.

We then completed two operational searches, but on the second search he managed to cut his right hind leg. The first thing I noticed was a pool of blood on a stile platform he had just jumped over. A close inspection of the injury revealed cut tendons, fortunately the ones that gave his foot shape and not the ones that propelled him. Luckily he only needed stitches and not a cast. However, I then had three months with a bored idle dog, but he did make a full recovery.

We attended seventy four searches over the years. Some were very high profile and some were in beautiful surroundings. It saddens me that he never had a find but at least he never missed anyone which is more important.

I noticed over this winter that he had slowed down and on the Sunday before Christmas he had a fit. He then had another on the 16th of January. Blood and urine test at the vets revealed nothing that could cause a fit, but on the 28th of January he had a fit in the evening and then another in the small hours of the morning. On Tuesday morning we took him to the vets, where he had another fit and the vet noticed that some of his liver enzymes were high and wanted to scan his liver before making a decision on how to treat the fits. He later phoned me to say they had found a tumour on his liver and that they were struggling to control his fits. Even if they could control his fits, between the drugs which would be needed to treat them and the weakened condition of his liver, he would only have a few months to live. I instructed the vet to put him down and that was it.

Everyone one thinks their dog is very special and I am no exception. Finn was my mate, a constant companion who came everywhere with me. I have many memories of days on the hill with him - we travelled the length and breadth of the country together. He's been everywhere from Land’s End to the North coast of Scotland. He had a very expressive face, could bark with his mouth full and in his youth he was fast enough to catch grey squirrels. He was well socialised and was good with other dogs, children and cats. He has sired two litters of puppies and has grandchildren.

On the down side he soon worked out that jabbing people in the crutch with his nose was a sure way of getting attention and his bottom served as a spring which bubbled forth almost continual dog wind.

We're going to miss him, but on the bright side I am in the process of acquiring one of his great grandsons and hope to train him as a Search Dog. Assuming the mother is pregnant the pups will arrive in April and I will have a new dog in July. Finn did well.”

Finn and handler Stephen on their successful assessment in 2011

Finn with CVSRT Search Dogs Jack and Pepper

On Monday 4th of March CVSRT received a generous donation of £1000 from members of De Warren Masonic Lodge, Blackwall, Halifax.

Representatives of the Lodge visited the Rescue Post for an update on CVSRT news followed by a demonstration of the capability of our new Incident Control Vehicle, Calder Mobile 4 (CM4).

The Master, Peter Reeve, then presented a cheque to CVSRT Chairman David Warden.

CVSRT are extremely grateful for this funding which will be used to purchase additional IT equipment for, and undertake minor adaptations to, CM4.

Yesterday, in support of Calderdale Councils annual Big Spring Clean, CVSRT members and supporters took part in the clean-up of an illegal fly-tipping hotspot.

The site, across the River Calder from ROKT and clearly visible from Brighouse town centre, has long been a blight on the local landscape.

Technical rope and water safety skills were used to protect team members as they cleared a steep area above the river of an array of fly-tipped items ranging from settees to gnomes!

Four hours and three full wagons of cleared material later, the site was transformed back to its natural litter free state.

Find out how you can help Calderdale Council keep your neighbourhood cleaner


On Tuesday 26th February, CVSRT members Clive Green, Wayne Ogden and Martin Woodhead were presented with Long Service Awards by West Yorkshire Police Calderdale District Commander, Chief Superintendent Whitehead.

The awards were recognition for three stalwarts of the team who are always there helping to provide stability and continuity. It’s to their credit that after decades of service they are all still active, attend callouts and continue to make a positive contribution to the team. All three are excellent ambassadors for the team and the wider Mountain Rescue family.

Chief Superintendent Whitehead said “I am truly inspired by the recipients of the awards and the team as a whole. CVSRT are exemplars of public service and consummate professionals in their approach and delivery.”

Clive Green has volunteered 50 years of service to CVSRT and is the longest serving member of the team EVER, joining not long after its formation in 1966. As ‘buildings officer’ Clive played a major role in the project to construct the Rescue Post, our team base in Mytholmroyd, which was built 25 years ago. He also fulfilled the role of ‘assistant leader’ for five years until 2018.

Wayne and Martin have both volunteered 40 years of service to CVSRT, only three other team members have reached this landmark. 

Wayne joined from the Scouts and during his time has fulfilled many and various roles including ‘assistant leader’ and ‘vehicles officer’. Martin also joined from the Scouts and during his time has stood as ‘deputy team leader’, ‘assistant leader’ and ‘treasurer’.

CVSRT would like to thank Clive, Wayne and Martin for their commitment to the team and being instrumental in its development over the decades. The experience they bring to the team is second to none.

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