Thursday 24 November 2011

A success for Cluanie and SARDA Wales

SARDA Wales held one of its two assessments for the year in November. We hold one in March and one in November. Any dogs and handlers considered ready for the Callout List are assessed over the course of three days.

This time we had Richard with Scout, and Rob with Skye going for Lowland Novice assessmend, Cazz and Tess at Full Lowland Assessment. Jim and Fly passed at Novice Mountain level. Cluanie and I were assessed at Full Mountain Search Dog level and passed with flying colours. A great achievement as Cluanie is my third Mountain Rescue Search dog and there are not may people to have graded three Search dogs. Very proud of Cluanie. She was a little star. she put so much effort in I had to quadruple her food (and she was on high energy dog food!)

The night we passed we were up at 4 am to search Cadair Idris for a missing walker. We were exhausted to say the least after that weekend.
The successful attendees on the front row with Assessors and Bodies from the weekend. Cluanie and I, and Antony and Moss are missing as we were making our way home from Cadair Idris at this point.

A big thanks to all the bodies who hid out on the montainsides for us to find, and the Assessors who watched patiently while we searched the areas.

Seeing as we missed the official photographs I thought I would include this photo of us in action!

Steve and I attended the Mountain Rescue Medical Conference in Ambleside the weekend before to find out about the latest teaching and findings in Mountain Rescue Medicine and Casualty Care.

We have just finished 3 days of First Aid training and at this weekend are running a REC Level 2 course for the BMC Club Hut Committee in North Wales.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Wet and windy REC course!

With winds forecast at 100mph even down to low levels we we running our October REC Level 2 course in Capel Curig. We managed to get outside and enjoy the very fresh air several times.

Here are Simon and Mark on one of the scenarios! They had an unresponsive, non-breathing casualty and a casualty with possible spinal injuries to take care of.

Just before the hand dropped off! Serious bleed time!

Monday 10 October 2011

read about us in the Cotswold blog

Richard, one of the staff from the Royal Oak Cotswold Outdoors in Betws-y-Coed has written about us in their blog, Richard attended our July course at Ben's Bunkhouse in Nant Peris. I have attached a link to his blog so you can read all about it.

Friday 9 September 2011

Another Dog Find for Cluanie and Helen

Llanberis Team were called out this morning for two walkers who had spent the night on the North Ridge of Crib Goch. They were well kitted out but unfortunately a boot had split which made life hard on difficult terrain. They waited till morning before calling us out and as visibility was very poor, Helen took Cluanie along to help in speeding up the search. Cluanie found them high up on the North Ridge of Crib Goch (considerably higher than where their GPS put them!)

Helen and Cluanie in rather better conditions than on Snowdon

Thursday 8 September 2011

Walking Group Leader Courses

Steve and I have had a great week training Field Studies Staff Walking Group Leader training. We were based at Margam Discovery Centre for one of the courses and Malham Tarn for the second one.

The weather stayed fine at Margam allowing us to enjoy beautiful views if not quite as challenging navigation conditions. We found a variety of typical Walking Group Leader terrain. On one of our days we headed up the the Brecons for the top end level of terrain. Seeing an Air Ambulance and Sea King rescue!

Only three days later we were heading from the sublime to the ridiculous with the weather as we squelched our way round Penyghent in the Yorkshire Dales. From glorious sunshine in Rhossili to torrential rain in North Yorkshire. However the Yorkshire weather cleared on the Sunday to give lovely views of limestone country.

Steve and I had a great time, really loving the company and the fun atmosphere with people learning lots.

Skills covered included basic navigation, micro-navigation, leadership styles, emergency procedures just to name some.

We then returned to Wales to even wilder weather. I had 3 days of Mountain Leading in the Carneddau, Glyders and on Snowdon for the Wild Women Challenge of British Gas. Again, a thoroughly enjoyable experience and a privilege to see people progress through the three days conquering fears of heights and steep ground.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Rocks and Dogs

Steve and I taught two REC Level 2 Mountain First Aid courses to the military last week. We had a great time and wish all the best to these guys.

Yesterday I was dog training in the Ogwen Valley with the SARDA Wales. Cluanie and I had two good searches. The only downside for the bodies (the people who hide for us to find) is that Cluanie has a very loud indication. When she finds a body she then barks very loudly both with them and back at me when she returns to tell me. There has been a request for ear plugs!

I am now on an excellent Geology course learning more about the Geology of Snowdonia and getting many surprises about the rocks. Steve in the meantime is busy working on converting our van into a camper van which will help both on holidays and when we teach away from home.

Later in the month we are running two Walking Group Leader Training Courses for the FSC (Field Studies Council). We also have  Mountain Leader Training and Assessment courses running in October.

Monday 8 August 2011

First Aid for Environmental Expedition

At my last First Aid course I had Theresa and David Werney as clients. They are from the United Arab Emirates and are about to embark on a round-the world tour. I have posted a link to their blog as they include a write up of their course:

Saturday 30 July 2011

Midge free and sunshine Scotland

Steve and I have just returned from a wonderful two weeks of summer weather in Scotland. Even the midges were behaving themselves and leaving us alone.

The first two days were more cloudy and wet giving some incredibly atmospheric conditions such as over Loch Maree near Slioch.
After an initial two wet days, the weather changed to British Summer Time or maybe that should be Continental Summer Time.

We climbed two Corbetts in northern Torridon (Ruadh Stac Beag being one of them). The wind was bitter for the first week but that meant walking conditions were ideal. And our boots actually stayed dry!
One of the highlights for me was climbing Sgurr Dubh and Sgurr nan Lochan Uaine. I had attempted these two mountains years ago but having parked at the Ling Hut car park and walked to Loch Clair along the road had to retrace my steps when I found the stalkers were in the Glen I was supposed to be ascending. This time we were luckier. Tilly, not so: the curse of Torridonian Rock affected her feet and by the time we had summitted the first peak she had several bleeding nails.

Steve and I had to take it in turns to wait at a tarn with Tilly while the other headed for the second peak alone.

The Van is now on its way into being turned into a camper van although there is still quite a way to go. Having an awning certainly made a huge difference on the few wet days that we had, but I am looking forward to the full conversion with cooker etc inside!
Having had several more days in Torridon which meant that I was able to head up the north end of the Beinn Eighe ridge, we then headed south for Loch Arkaig.

 Here we were able to have two more big hill days which both involved two Corbetts a day, and for me one of the highlights was a swim in a mountain pool on the descent of the last day. After a rather hot and sweaty day it was blissful to cool off in the plunge pool of a waterfall; Nature's natural jacuzzi!

Incredibly over two weeks, our boots only got wet on the first two days. From then on it was a pure delight to be able to take off dry socks and boots each night!

Sadly it was then home time; and what a sizzling drive south! However, as I made my way through over 8 loads of washing the rain returned and so put a dampener literally onto the washing which was hanging out on the line to dry overnight!

On Friday, Steve and I took our first MLTA Real Mountain First Aid Workshop. It was a very enjoyable day with a lovely group. We will definitely being taking more in the future.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Cluanie has a find and Helen goes to Doncaster

At the weekend Helen joined the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team for several callouts on Snowdon. One really pleasing result was a find on lost walkers with Cluanie on Saturday evening. Three walkers phoned in to say that they were lost in very poor visibility and were on steep ground on the South side of Snowdon.
Cluanie heads out into the mist!

 Cluanie found them and lead Helen and the team into their location. Well done, Cluanie. This is her second Search dog find. Have a read about it on Grough website or bbc news wales

On Sunday evening after a blisteringly hot day, Helen headed across to South Yorkshire to teach three days of First Aid to De Warenne Academy in Conisborough. This was to prepare Duke of Edinburgh students for their expedition. Thankfully the weather cooled down a little for the last two days of the course.

Steve has been busy leading outdoor activities for a school group including walking up Snowdon and gorge scrambling in the Afon Ddu.

Monday 20 June 2011

Busy summer (and wet!)

Steve and I headed off up to Scotland for a week. We really picked our dates: the journey up coincided with the 'hurricane' force winds that struck Scotland. It was sad to see so many trees blown down by the winds.
We had a few days walking in Lochaber, being rained and snowed on and blown around the mountains before heading home for our next JSMTC Mountain First Aid course.

Then Cluanie and I had our helicopter training with the Search Dogs. Cluanie who is a very chilled out hound took an intense dislike to the big yellow budgie and tried to dig herself in under the seats once on board.
I try to brief Cluanie on helicopter protocol

If everything else fails, try bribery and corruption. Body Emmer entices Cluanie onboard with a toy!
Cluanie and I being winched

This last week Steve has been Assessing on Snowdonia First Aid's first Mountain Leader Assessment course. The weather yet again was not kind!

This last weekend I attended the North Wales Mountain Rescue Fatal Incidents Training Course. It is a course in how to deal with fatalities in the mountains and the police protocols. It was a very interesting course with excellent instruction by North Wales Police. It is the type of course that you hope you do not have to put into practice in a hurry.

Today Cluanie I had a glorious walk over the Carneddau while we marshalled for a charity event. The views were fantastic; the only really proper summers day we have had for a week.

Friday 20 May 2011

Outdoor First Aid for the Military

Today Steve and I completed our first Outdoor First Aid courses for the Joint Services Mountain Training Centre. This is an exciting course for us as it goes beyond ordinary Outdoor First Aid. We certainly enjoyed our time on the courses and are looking forward to future courses and developing the contents further.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

ML Assessment and First Aid Assessments

Steve and I received an email this morning to inform us that we had passed the Advanced ECMR (Emergency Care in Mountain Rescue) exam at the weekend along with five other members of the Llanberis Team. It was a rather gruelling assessment with three practicals or scenarios: medical, trauma and airway management. This was followed by two written papers!  Needless to say it felt like being put through a wringer and the news this morning was very welcome!

On the Saturday we both attended the Mountain Rescue England and Wales training day at Plas y Brenin which ran several useful and interesting workshops.

At the moment there are still two places available on the Mountain Leadership Assessment running 15th to 19th June. Get in touch if you want a place.

Saturday 7 May 2011

Walking Group Leader Training

Steve has just returned from Preston Monford where he has been running a Walking Group Leader Training course for the FSC (Field Studies Council). There were 6 trainees who were all taught various skills in navigation, group management and leadership, hazards etc.

The weather unfortunately decided to take a turn for the worse (probably because my days off were coming up!). However, all had a successful, useful and interesting time. They visited sites in the Berwyns, Stiper Stones and Long Mynd areas. This is the first of several courses we are running for the FSC and most of the students are likely to be ready for assessment in 2012.

Keep an eye on our website for dates of Mountain Leadership Training and Assessment courses. There are 2 places available on the ML Assessment we are running in June.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Another successful REC course

We have just completed another REC level 2 course in the stunning scenery of the Snowdonian mountains. The weather was extremely obliging meaning that even most of the theory sessions were able to be carried out outside in the sunshine. Sounds like the beautiful weather is set to continue although a little colder.
   It was great to see students progress and grow in knowledge and confidence.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Sunday with the team

Today we were out training with our rescue team (Llanberis). We had a stretcher lowering exercise this morning in the Pass. I was intending to include some photos in this blog but am having trouble downloading photos from my phone! Will add some later if I sort the problem.

It was a lovely morning, enjoying the Snowdonia sun and scenery. Afterwards we chilled out before getting called out to a broken ankle on the Pyg track. Well done to the casualty; despite what looked like a painful and badly swollen ankle, he made it down to Pen y Pass as we were driving up.

Congratulations to my friend Joy, and her dog Einich (full sister to Cluanie) who passed their Search Dog Assessment with SARDA Lakes yesterday. Another dog team to help save lives in the mountains.

Saturday 16 April 2011

Busy week

The ECMR Advanced weekend was followed by two days of REC level 2 course teaching. And what a change in weather: from tropical to sub-arctic in twenty-four hours.

   On Thursday I lead a group of Alpine Italian lads up Lliwedd and Snowdon. Sadly they didn't get to see much; visibility was down to 20 metres in places (and as is typical the cloud really began to lift on our descent). Afterwards, Steve picked me up from Pen-y-Pass. We were heading home down the Llanberis Pass when we saw flashing blue lights in a layby ahead of us. A paramedic was making his way up the scree to a fallen climber. I shouted to see if they needed help and he said he had just alerted the MRT. (our SMS had failed to go off as we were in a blind spot). So Steve and I drove down to base to pick up extra equipment such as a stretcher, the KTD (in case of fractured femur), the Vac Matt  for spinal immobilisation and then headed back to the scene of the accident.

   Our casualty was lucky. He had taken an 8 metre fall and had fractured his lower leg and lower arm. However there had been a long delay between the emergency call going out and the Rescue Team being alerted. Remember in the mountains always ask for the Police and Mountain Rescue; not an Ambulance which was what had happened here. Add the information that the casualty was only 30m from the road, it is easy to see why an ambulance was sent! Unfortunately, that 30m was up a steep and loose hillside.

Last night Cluanie and I were called out to help search for an elderly lady in the Conwy Valley. Sadly as of yet, she is still missing. We were back in bed for 3.30 am. Today has been a lazy day with a lovely walk over Moel Eilio with the dogs and Steve.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Needles and pain!

This weekend Steve and I attended the ECMR (Emergency Care for Mountain Rescue) Advanced training Course along with 6 other Llanberis MRT members, 2 Ogwen and 1 Sussex SRT. It was an interesting and fascinating course (if a little painful at times!) It was held at Indie on Anglesey and the weather was glorious. Not a few of us cast woeful and frustrated eyes at the mountains of Snowdonia on the other side of the Straits! However it was an incredibly useful three days.

Smiling despite the pain: Cannula in hand
 We both felt we learned loads and are really grateful to the surgeons, registrars and other medics who gave up their time to train us.

The course gave us lots of scenario practice as well as injections, suturing (thankfully, not on each other!) and needle thoracostamy.

I can see a lot of intensive training going on between now and May 8th; the date of the exam. It promises to be an intense morning; 2 exam papers, an airway practical examination, and 2 scenarios - medical condition and a trauma.

Close up!

Meanwhile, I have been elected as a Members Rep for SARDA Wales. I hope I am able to help the Association throught the following year. 
Steve practising needle thoracostamy (needle decompression to you and me!) While Brian says hello!

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Snowdonia First Aid goes European

Steve and I were in Portugal over the weekend, teaching REC Level 2 First Aid to a group of school staff from St Julian's School near Lisbon. Our group were a mixture of Outdoor Education, Sports and Physical Education staff. Here are some photos of our lovely venue. The weather was mixed. We don't seem to have great luck with weather when we go abroad! The weather was overcast and Aberystwyth had warmer temperatures on the Thursday before we went than we encountered in Portugal! Probably just as well; I think any hotter and it would have been a shock to the system!

On with the plastic gloves. Your safety comes first!

Steve and I enjoying the local sites of Lisbon

Tuesday 22 March 2011

MLTA Workshops

Steve and I are running some Real Mountain First Aid workshops for the MLTA over Easter. These are one day courses designed as refreshing and developing clients' first aid knowledge and skills.

The MLTA introduced CPD requirements for 2011 onwards. The idea is that all members keep upto date with training rather than accepting that their qualification is a 'ticket for life'. This should keep instructors and leaders fresh and in line with current thinking.

Our course is aimed at showing our clients the reality of First Aid in the Outdoors. see for more information.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Observing the Trainers REC Course

Steve and I are spending this week observing the REC Trainers course. This is with the intention of running our own REC First Aid trainers courses later in the year. It is an exciting development for us and a prospect we are relishing.
    In order for someone to become a Trainer under the REC scheme they need to have a current First Aid at Work certificate and have either the REC Advanced First Aid qualification or an appropriate alternative qualification or experience.

Saturday 12 March 2011

Lovely Long Mynd

Steve and I had a trip down to the Long Mynd and Church Stretton area of Shropshire this Wednesday. We were reccying it for a Walking Group Leader course that we are running for the Field Studies Council. Beautiful area; very different. Sadly the weather was not playing by my rules for photography so I failed to get any decent photos of the area. However, we are looking forward to going back in May and hopefully should obtain some good photos then.

Friday 11 March 2011

Alpine Scottish conditions!

Yes, you can tell this is not written for this week's weather! The conditions there at the moment sound wild again. Good luck to my friend Joy, and her dog, Einich (Cluanie's sister) who have an more of their Search Dog assessments there this week.

I returned from Scotland last Saturday after a highly successful Search Dog training week with SARDA Wales.

The first two days were spent up in Corrie an Sneachda (Corrie of the Snows). Day One focused on Winter and Avalanche skills in particular. We were trained by Daz of the Kinloss RAF MRT.

Helen gets to grips with the Peeps Avalanche Transceiver. How technology has moved on since these were designed. Give me the Mammut Barryvox  any day!

Training included the use of Avalanche Transceivers (very useful Winter IML revision for me), building snow holes and digging avalanche pits and doing various tests such as the Walkers' Block Test. We finished the day off with a competition to see who could find the buried transceiver the quickest.

Day 2. I was I/C (Instructor in Charge).

We concentrated more on the dogs. I dug snow holes and buried bodies (keeping a very close eye on the thawing snow!) for the dogs and handlers to find, while Antony set up a mountain search area on the scree of the Fiacall Ridge.

the body's view of a find!

I had an interesting search of the area as I opted just to take my ice axe. I had decided the boulders would be a pain with crampons so opted to leave those in my rucksack. Big mistake! The snow areas were hard nevee and a lot larger than they looked from below. My step-cutting skills were put into practice, especially when Cluanie struck the body's scent from the bottom left hand of the area. The body was at the top right hand corner of the area. For twenty minutes my dog barked and barked to get me to Kes, while I desperately cut step after step! An amazing find and a lesson learnt! Always take your crampons in hard snow. Yes, cut stepping is possible;it's just a lot slower than using crampons!

Spot the handler!

Day Three was spent training in the land behind the Highland Wildlife Park. Again, another successful day. Although Cluanie was finally found to be on heat.

On Day Four Antony and I opted to go for a mountain walk over the top of Cairngorm as most of the Bodies decided to go to RAF Kinloss for the afternoon.

The Girls! Body Emmer, Tess, Cazz, Cluanie and Helen 
 Day 5 was another lower day. We trained on the flanks on the Monadhlith towards Kingussie. It was great to see Tess and Cazz grow in confidence ready for their Lowland Full Assessment at the end of March.

What a week. I only found the Drying Room at the Centre we were staying at on the final morning when I decided to have a good explore. How often can you do that in Scotland (or Wales for that matter)?

Sunday 30 January 2011

A fantastic winter so far

Cluanie not impressed by snowballs

A Happy New Year to everyone. Hope you all enjoyed the winter break. Steve and I were out in the fantastic winter conditions. Memorable days include snow-shoeing over Moel Eilio in deep snow and near whiteout, skiing, making the most of some of the best winter conditions available!

Steve has been appointed as Regional Director of REC for Wales by Dr Bob Philips in January. This means that we will be running workshops and training days for REC Trainers in Wales. An exciting move for us.  

January seems to have been a month of First Aid. We ran an open course in mid January. In the mean time we had several revision sessions at Llanberis MRT base for the team members sitting the MREW Casualty Care exam. Many thanks to the Advanced First Aiders from the team who acted as mock Assessors for the practicals.
The exam was held at Boulder Adventures, Llanberis  and all the candidates passed. A real sense of achievement for those of us who trained everyone back in November. 

Practising spinal management.
The next day Steve and I drove down to Wiltshire to run a REC Level 2 course at Lakham Agricultural College for the Outdoor Education students of Wiltshire College and Climbing Instructors from Undercover-Rock, Bristol. A good time was had by all.