Call in the Coastguard!
It might sound like a strange thing to say in land-locked West Yorkshire, but in the same way that Mountain Rescue is about a lot more than mountains, the Coastguard search and rescue service is about much more than the coast!
Since the responsibility for the UK’s helicopter search and rescue operations transferred from the RAF to HM Coastguard in 2015, all Mountain Rescue teams have been working with the new service to familiarise themselves with the new Sikorsky S-92 aircraft.
On Saturday, the Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team carried out a joint training exercise with HM Coastguard, covering various winching techniques and specific practices when working with the S-92 as opposed to the outgoing Sea King helicopters.
As well as assisting with large-area searches, H-SAR provides vital assistance to Mountain Rescue teams when it comes to evacuating and transporting casualties. Often weather or ground conditions make it impossible to land the aircraft, and the best way to get personnel in and out is by winch.
The significant downdraught from the S-92 creates unique challenges for winching – often necessitating the use of a high-line to allow team members on the ground to control the path the winch takes and prevent unwanted movement and spinning as much as possible. Saturday’s exercise provided team members with valuable experience working within the downdraught and controlling the high-line.
Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team regularly conducts training such as this with other services and agencies it works alongside in order to maintain readiness and a good knowledge of working practices for when the need arises.
The Coastguard crew were also particularly pleased with the beautiful Yorkshire weather that was arranged for the training!