A year in the life of…


Howorth Air Tech’s Michael Mellor: My journey to mountain rescue success

Ever since I was 15 years old watching the mountain rescue teams respond to emergency calls, it has been my ambition to join them. I have always liked being outdoors enjoying hiking, skiing, scuba diving and other outdoor activities, which began when I was in the scouts. But I never felt I had the spare time to commit until 2019.

To get into the team you have to get through a selection process of interview and navigational assessment. When I originally enquired to join the team in October 2018 – that’s when the testing process immediately started. I was sent an application form and was invited to a presentation. For this there was a twist, as you were simply given a map grid reference to find the location of the presentation and interview. Once through the interview you were invited to the navigational assessment where I had to lead a team member around the moorland to preselected grid references and take compass bearings using my navigation (NAV) skills. I recall that the day was one of the stormiest, which certainly added to the occasion and the complexity of the task in hand.

On christmas eve 2018, I received confirmation of my selection as a trainee and that training would start in January 2019 along with five other trainees. This was the start of many hours of dedicated training on evenings and weekends over a period of twelve months to complete our core competences and develop many core skills such as;

  • Search techniques
  • Communications (radios)
  • Stretcher and rescue work
  • First aid
  • Basic ropework & rescue
  • Helicopter training
  • Equipment and vehicles
  • MDT working with police, ambulance service and general public
  • Plus many other skills

After seven months of basic training, we were all added to the call-out register, which meant that we could attend emergency call outs. Being on the register means you’re on call 24/7, 365 days of the year and are contacted via text message to check your availability.  Since being added to the call-out list, I have already attended twelve incidents.

Finally, at Christmas 2019, all the trainees were accepted as full members of the team. Since then I have  completed training in Casualty (CAS) Care certification, which has been three months of full-on training learning to assess casualties for Medical and Trauma cases and then administering treatments for injuries and pain relief.

I would like to say a big thank you to my wife, Julie, for all her support during my journey to becoming a full team member. Julie has been amazing (and it helped that she has a medical background). In one evening she role played having a heart attack, seizure, fractured femur, heatstroke, asthma attack and methodically supported me to understand the importance of primary and secondary searches of a casualty. She thankfully made a full recovery and was rewarded with a large glass of Sauvignon! I would also like to thank Jim Liptrot and the Howorth Team for supporting me in my pursuit to become a full active member of the Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team.

Mountain Rescue has helped me form new friendships, improved my physical and mental fitness and it’s great to be part of something that supports my local community. It’s also been great in supporting a positive work life balance.

All the Mountain Rescue Teams are voluntary organisations and rely on the generosity of people giving up their own time to save lives. The team needs the generosity of the general public and grants and involves a lot of fundraising by the team and its supporters. At present we are trying to raise £70k to replace our control vehicle, which is a vital piece of equipment to help save lives. If you would like to donate please visit our Just Giving page or visit the Woodhead Mountain Rescue Facebook page.

Michael Mellor
Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team Member and Howorth Air Tech Employee

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