Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue Training Day at Needingworth Quarry

On Sunday 1st of October 2017 members of the Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue volunteer group were welcomed to Needingworth quarry by Heidelberg Materials to carry out a number of training exercises on the site. This allowed for a uniquely immersive opportunity for the search and rescue teams who were able to benefit from training in confined spaces and also training near open water and bank searching.

Heidelberg Materials Needingworth employee Chris Ivatt had volunteered for the day to act as a casualty in the confined space scenario; he was placed in the surge tunnel acting as a diabetic who had broken his leg. Lights in the tunnel were turned off for the exercise so the trainees had to locate Chris with only light from head torches they then had to provide immediate care, place him on a stretcher and evacuate him through the emergency escape tunnel. During the evacuation Chris would act as a patient slipping into a diabetic coma at which point a dummy was used for CPR and Emergency Defibrillator training. With the whole exercise lasting around one hour, over half of which was spent inside the dimly lit surge tunnel this exercise was a very vivid simulation of a real life scenario and participants commented on its usefulness in preparing them for real life situations.

A welcome addition to the day and a first at Needingworth was the presence of a dog search team. With high winds present all day and a plethora of new smells in an entirely alien environment to the dogs the day would prove very challenging, despite this the dogs, helped by their handlers were able to locate all of their targets. Not only was this a beneficial day for the dogs and their handlers it allowed the other S&R trainees the opportunity to become accustomed to working alongside the canine searchers and to see first hand how they operate.

Navigation and bank search exercises were also practiced on the site; teams used manual navigation and referencing methods such as pace counting and compasses in order to carry out a search for a number of items and a dummy resembling a 5 year old missing person. The search saw teams searching dense hedgerows, ditches and crossing varying terrain and woodland before building a shelter for the missing person upon discovering the dummy. The bank searching exercise involved one person searching the water banks whilst two other team members supervised them to ensure safety.

Overall the day ran smoothly for the teams involved and members of the CAMSAR commented on the importance of generosity from volunteers like site Foreman Ian Ballard who prepared and opened the site so that the exercises could take place and Chris Ivatt who volunteered to act as a casualty on the day. Without the use of sites like Needingworth quarry Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue volunteers may not be as well prepared to help the missing persons of Cambridgeshire. It was a great opportunity for CAMSAR to gain experience and for Heidelberg Materials employees to see how the Search and Rescue teams operate, Heidelberg Materials Needingworth look forward to continuing to work alongside Cambridgeshire search and rescue in the future.