Search and Rescue team break scramble record
25 Sep 07
RAF Search and Rescue crews based in Leconfield, East Yorkshire, have broken their long-standing record for the number of search and rescue scramble call outs in a single year.
RAF Sea King helicopter from E Flight, No 202 Squadron, conducting a rescue in February 2007 when a Virgin Trains London to Glasgow Express was derailed at Greyrigg, near Kendal in Cumbria
The previous record of 179 call outs was set in 1995 but on Saturday 22 September 2007, crews from E Flight, 202 Squadron, conducted scramble number 180 which fortunately for the casualty involved, ended safely.
The crew of Rescue 128 was tasked at 1505 hrs to assist in the recovery of a female hill-walker who had broken her ankle after falling 20 feet into a gully at Arncliff in the Yorkshire Dales. The heli-med air ambulance was already on the scene and its crew and paramedic had climbed down the gully to attend the woman; a civilian mountain rescue team was also in attendance. Both civilian agencies realised the only way to safely extract the casualty was by a stretcher winching, hence tasking for Rescue 128 from Leconfield.
Rescue 128 arrived at Arncliff at 1540 hrs and had to run out 150 feet of cable to effect this rescue. Unusual wind conditions meant severe gusts of wind gave way to complete calmness before another freak gust came along. Adding this to the extended length of winch cable being deployed meant tricky conditions, but the female casualty and heli-med paramedic were winched onboard at 1600 hrs and RAF rearcrew assisted with immediate medical care during the 15 minute flight to the new helicopter landing pad at Harrogate Hospital.
The casualty and heli-med paramedic de-planed and when last heard of, the female casualty was making good progress.
On achieving the 180th record breaking flight, the Captain of Rescue 128, Flight Lieutenant Mark Randall, said:
"We were all aware that the next 'shout' would be a milestone for E Flight at Leconfield, but when it came, we were totally focused on the task in hand and forgot all about record-breaking. Our sole aim was to get the casualty safely extracted and off to hospital as fast as possible.
"We were most impressed by the levels of mutual understanding of each other's capabilities exhibited between ourselves, the civilian heli-med crew and the mountain rescue team. The entire event was superbly coordinated by the duty controlling team at the UK Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre at RAF Kinloss."
A Sea King helicopter from E Flight, No 202 Squadron, is voice-marshalled sideways into the helicopter landing site and casualty clearing station at Royal Marine Reserve Tyne Barracks
Wing Commander Andy Bastable, Officer Commanding No 202 Squadron, said:
"I am delighted that this lady received such prompt and expert medical attention. It is noteworthy that the range of services and capabilities provided by the RAF Search and Rescue Force are becoming known to a wide audience and this rescue demonstrates the daily cooperation that exists between the RAF and the civilian emergency services. I would like to pass on my personal congratulations and appreciation to the RAF personnel at Leconfield who have acquitted themselves so professionally in what has been a record-breaking year for them."
The crew of Rescue 128 for their record-breaking 180th mission were: Captain, Flt Lt Mark Randall; Co-Pilot, Squadron Leader Chris Mace; Radar/Winch Operator, Sergeant Adrian 'Coops' Cooper; and Paramedic/Winchman, Master Aircrew Harry Harrison.
Squadron 202 is one of the RAF's Search and Rescue Squadrons, who provide 24-hour cover around the UK and the Falkland Islands. Each squadron maintains a 15-minutes readiness state during daylight hours and a 45-minutes readiness state during the hours of darkness. The Search and Rescue fleet of Sea Kings are fitted with a video/infrared detection pod, which is similar to the equipment used by police helicopters, to help search for casualties.
202 Squadron's home is at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland but they operate a series of Flights, usually of two aircraft, at a number of stations around the coast. Detached Flights are currently based at Boulmer in Northumberland ('A' Flight and Headquarters), Lossiemouth ('D' Flight) and Leconfield ('E' Flight).