Ambleside exercise brings specialist army regiment, mountain rescue and paramedics together
Badly injured, frightened and freezing, the victims of a mountaineering accident try desperately to keep each other going as they pray salvation will arrive.
Their relief is palpable as brave men and women are soon at their side to treat their wounds and hypothermia, stabilise and evacuate them from their treacherous location.
Thankfully, this scene is not a potentially tragic emergency but vital training as part of a unique collaboration between members of a specialist Army medical unit, mountain rescue volunteers and lecturers from the University of Cumbria’s paramedic training team which will one day help those taking part save lives for real.
This exercise saw the university’s Ambleside campus used for a variety of realistic scenarios with members of 335 Medical Evacuation Regiment joining Kendal Mountain Rescue Team and university paramedic trainers in tackling a series of incidents involving casualties suffering from potentially life-threatening conditions.
The grounds and buildings of the Ambleside campus proved an ideal location over a full weekend.
Ian Corrie, principal health and nursing lecturer and Honorary Colonel of 335 Medical Evacuation Regiment said: “Collaboration between the services and the university is essential. Many of the Reservists have previous Army experience and the majority now work within the NHS.
“To be able to offer our expertise means that lessons learned on operations can be transferred to civilian life and vice-versa.”
Major Rob Instrell, the unit’s Clinical Lead for this training weekend, explained that the partnership was invaluable from the perspective of linking civilian and military clinical care.
“The expertise of the UoC lecturers and the professional leading skills of the Kendal Mountain Rescue Team add a realism to training that is difficult to reproduce and will be remembered by unit personnel for some time to come,” he said.
As well as practical scenarios the weekend was used to provide leadership and development training for senior members of the regiment.
Paramedic lecturer and Army Reservist David Bates added: “The benefit for the university is that we’re taking the experience of these different grounds plus our own experience which we can then use in our teaching.”
Mathew Benson, a volunteer with Kendal Mountain Rescue Team and a serving technician with North West Ambulance Service, said the event was a welcome opportunity to collaborate. “It was a great opportunity to share skills and kit as well as teaching methods. Good experience and good practice.”
The Ambleside campus will be used for another exercise early next year. Paramedic students will join policing and forensic science colleagues in attending a ‘major incident’ event. The two-day exercise has been praised nationally and has been adopted by other universities.
The regiment has been called in to bring its expertise to bear across the spectrum of operations the UK has been involved in since its formation in 2005, deploying on operations in Cyprus, Iraq and Afghanistan. Most recently 35 ranks were involved in training exercises alongside the US Army in Germany (2017), Poland and the USA (2018), while 35 more ranks are currently preparing to deploy to Germany next year.