Saturday saw an ambitious large training exercise for volunteer search and rescue teams taking place at Livox Quarry in the Wye Valley.

More than 70 volunteers took part in the exercise organised by SARA on behalf of the South West England Rescue Association (SWERA).

SWERA is the umbrella organisation representing volunteer rescue teams from Dorset to the Midlands, including those from Mountain, Lowland and Cave Rescue, and organised the training.

SWERA chairman Mark Carwardine, who is also a member of the Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA), explained that the idea had been to bring members of all eight teams together and to give them an opportunity to share ideas in a variety of rescue disciplines.

During the course of the day, rescuers were offered workshops in operating on steep unstable group, managing a casualty site, flood rescue, advanced first aid and an introduction to cave rescue as well as opportunities for developing teamwork.

Cavers were able to drive a rescue boat across a lake and climb a ladder from the boat up onto a cliff, and experts in searching for missing people in woodland were able to go underground and manoeuvre a casualty in a stretcher up through a small twisting crack in the rock.

Mark said: “This was the first time that we have attempted an exercise on this scale.

‘‘We had over 70 volunteers from our eight teams and a commercial company provided equipment demonstrations.

‘‘The feedback from the member teams was really positive, and they all reported picking up ideas from others which they can implement.

“We are grateful for being able to use beautiful Livox Quarry, as it has a great variety of environments conveniently close together, and to another volunteer team called the Rapid Relief Team who provided wonderful refreshments all day.

‘‘Hopefully this kind of knowledge-sharing exercise will become a regular feature of our calendar”.

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