Carl’s Blog part 5 – Nearly there…

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Team photo at ENDEX of Ex Ironman.

Thursday 17th March 2016 – Nearly there…

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited on a training exercise, closely followed by our last initial training subject and completion of the UKLSI Lowland Search Technician course all in quick succession; it’s been a busy couple of weeks!

Exercise IRON MAN was a multi-agency exercise led by WILSAR and took place in Swindon’s Lydiard Park. From a personal perspective the exercise was really interesting  and demonstrated the cohesion of the search team in a challenging environment. The fact that the team was tasked with locating a live MisPer and the park was full of people enjoying a Sunday (Mothers’ Day) stroll made the exercise all the more realistic.

The Exercise gave the Team the opportunity to deploy all of the equipment available to them and once all of the briefs had taken place I followed a search team out to take some photos and observe what was going on. The scenario was that a 10 year old boy had gone missing after a disagreement with his parents and was last seen on his bike in the park, the teams were split up and given their search sectors whilst the specialist teams (bike and bank search) deployed into their respective areas.

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Water Team members deal with a simulated casualty (a searcher fell in!) on Ex Ironman.

The scenario developed throughout the afternoon and involved extraction of simulated casualties from water as well as the successful recovery of the MisPer. On completion the kit was cleaned and packed away followed by a quick debrief and team photo before everyone got away to enjoy the rest of the day with their families (and apologise/grovel to the mothers and wives that had been neglected!!)

So many people giving up their free time just highlights the selfless way that the Team and the emergency services go about their business. Training for such eventualities is clearly vital, not only to confirm current procedures but also to identify areas for improvement as every professional organisation should . The feedback from the emergency services was that it was a huge success, I certainly enjoyed it and it provided a great insight into what I should expect on my first live callout.

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LST students wait for a team leader brief, Matt waits for lunch.

After a week back at work and the midweek training session I travelled with Matt Croft, Damon Saddler (two other WILSAR Trainees) to the Frank Chapman outdoor centre in Worcester to start the LST course. On arrival we signed in and found our beds before being told that the chef would be late due to traffic congestion so we foraged into town in search of food. A Wetherspoon’s burger later we returned to find that the majority of the course had assembled and were waiting to start.

The weekend consisted of some classroom work and a number of outdoor demonstrations/exercises designed to teach, assess and confirm our new skills as well as those of the newly qualified Team Leaders.  We also received our team uniform and equipment which made me feel a little more integrated into the team but saw a certain member getting a bit of a complex, I won’t mention any names but there’s no point in crying when your hi-vis doesn’t fit, maybe lay off the biscuits?!

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Receiving a search demo on the UKLSI LST Course.

The exercises took place on the training area across varying terrain both by day and night looking for live MisPers played by the UKLSI staff.  The exercises were centrally controlled to enable the teams to assist each other as and when the situation changed, this normally meant trying to catch a MisPer that didn’t want to be caught – cue the Benny Hill music!!

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Signing in at the UKLSI Muster Area, Jon struggles to spell his name.

At the end of each training day we were given the opportunity to network with other Search Teams as well as find out a little bit more about the other new members of our team. We were also treated to the magical phenomenon of Adrian “Dynamo” Smith performing his card tricks over a couple of sociable drinks.  As you can guess the snoring that night in the dorm rooms was horrendous and sounded like a mixture of Norfolk pig farm, Darth Vader and chainsaw!

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Feeding chickens – not a UKLSI search Competency!

After a rubbish night’s sleep we were up early to complete the assessment exercise which lasted most of the morning.  After ENDEX we were given feedback and sent on our merry way and although feeling a little tired when I got home I think I speak for all of the trainees when I say it was a great weekend.  The instruction and administration was first rate, there was plenty to learn (and eat) but the balance was struck just right. I am now confident that I would be able to contribute effectively as a searcher if called out on a live search and be an asset to the team. I just need to remember it’s the “Northumbrian Rain dance” and not the “Cumbrian River Dance”!?

So we’re nearly there, I’m now just waiting to refresh my medical skills and police vetting (a WILSAR requirement) in the next couple of weeks to become operational. Obviously I would much prefer if people didn’t go missing but hopefully by the time my next blog hits the pages I will have been out to assist the team in an active search.

Search is an Emergency, Be professional, Searcher Cube, Searcher Cube, Searcher Cube!!

All the best and happy Easter!

Carl

The story so far: http://wilsar.org.uk/?s=carl+blog


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