Mountain Rescue Magazine Winter 2021


I was not at all surprised to hear from Yasmin, at the Scottish Mountain Rescue office, of the many messages received on the passing of the legend that was Hamish MacInnes. It was somehow very fitting that the week of his funeral heavy snows fell across the Scottish Highlands. In close succession came the sad announcement that Doug Scott had passed away peacefully at home. While the mountain rescue legacy of Hamish is widely known, perhaps less so with Doug. He was no stranger personally to rescues and, through his charity CAN (Community Action Nepal), set up three porter rescue stations in Solu, Khumbu. I remember the generosity of our teams donating used and unneeded rescue equipment back when I was equipment officer, to help Doug set these up. How we got the donated mountain of equipment out there was thanks to our RAF MRT friends and that’s a whole other story. After such a challenging year the mountain rescue service should be proud of its resilience, professionalism and teamwork. Looking ahead there are now real reasons for optimism that later in 2021, with the roll out of a vaccination programme, some form of normality can begin to return to our lives. However, before then, the coming winter months clearly provide potential resilience pressures on our teams. Maintaining safe operations whilst managing the Covid risks with added challenge of winter weather, longer rescues with less hours of light, reduced air ambulance support, all whilst having to operate in full PPE, clearly remain a significant challenge. The operations group and medical subcommittee are acutely aware that although there is light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccination programme, it is critically important that we keep to our protocols and guidelines for safe working. We need to continue to guard against over-familiarity or any complacency in the coming months to keep our team members and families safe. Training and skills fade have been discussed extensively. As frontline rescue volunteers we are legally allowed to undertake training activities. A national guidelines document on ‘back to training’ has been produced by the training subcommittee. Teams have made their own risk assessments and put in place plans of what face-to-face training is required and what can wait. Teams have followed best practice and guidance and kept to small groups or team bubbles for training and applied dynamic risk assessment for their own team as situations have changed locally. The medical subcommittee has reviewed the concerns and worries about the training and examining process of our Casualty Care Certificate and potential impact on operational capabilities. Although temporary modification of the assessment process has been made and some assessments have successfully taken place, it was recognised that with the second lockdown and pressures on medical professionals, a further extension for expiring certificate holders was provided until 1 September 2021. It is expected that those concerned will keep up to date with the required skills. Full details are, of course, on the medical area of Moodle. The monthly Covid meeting and the collection of data and reports from the regions has been incredibly useful. Its continuation will be reviewed at the Operations Group meeting on 9 January. Thanks to the regions for the feedback and data collection. The central provision of PPE for teams that need it will continue with a slight difference. Ordering will be through the shop not through Julian. This allows for a more efficient accounting process. Despite the present challenges, many of our projects and work streams continue to move forward. For full details see the officer reports from the November online main meeting. I will, however, mention that our excellent new website is up and running with its emphasis on educating and engaging with the public audience. The material in the old members area has been moved to Moodle. I am informed by David Coleman, chair of the selection panel for CIO member teams and regions, that this is on track for the end of the year completion, with a recent flurry of activity. I would like to thank David and the panel on your behalf, for this not insignificant task with the huge volume of material they have received and reviewed. I know that many teams have appreciated the guidance and advisory feedback provided. I would like to finish following the resignations recently announced of the National Officers Mike France, Mike Greene and Mike Gullen in thanking them all for their significant contributions. And, on a positive note... in December, we completed the interview process for the MREW Medical Director role and member teams voted to appoint Dr Alistair Morris. I know that once restrictions ease, Alistair is very keen to visit regions and meet with teams. ✪

CALDER VALLEY TEAM MEMBER ALISTAIR MORRIS APPOINTED MREW MEDICAL DIRECTOR So who is he, what’s his background and what are his thoughts and plans for his new role? We asked Alistair to say a few words here, by way of introduction... I’ve led an active outdoor life – rock climbing, mountaineering, caving, expedition cycling, ultra running and adventure racing – and joined Calder Valley on the back of my outdoor skills rather than my medical qualifications. I’ve been an active team member and have also trained in water rescue and am on the extended list for cave rescue with CRO. I have been team medical officer, regional medical officer for MPSRO, assistant and deputy team leader. My day job is as a paediatrician and has gravitated more recently to emergency and ambulatory care. Through my experience with prehospital care in mountain rescue I have expanded my training and knowledge through the West Yorkshire prehospital scheme. I have management experience within my hospital trust, being an associate medical director for digital health leading on the implementation of an electronic patient record. Medical education has been an area of particular interest throughout my career and I have trained and worked on projects including developing e-learning packages, designing electronic portfolios, producing and delivering paediatric training in the West Bank. I am a course organiser for an MSc at the University of Leeds and a trustee for a charity for medical education training health workers in Africa. I aim to bring my knowledge, skills and experience to build on and develop the hard work of my predecessors, John Ellerton and Mike Greene, to keep all teams providing the excellent care we currently do to those in distress. I would like the opportunity to listen and learn from teams around the country and hope I can be invited to come to regions and teams in 2021 when Covid allows safely. I look forward to meeting and working with all of you and it is a privilege to be appointed to this post and to represent all the teams and MREW.

Above: New MREW Medical Director, Dr Alistair Morris © Alistair Morris.



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