In the winter of 2008, I was contacted by the Training Officer of the Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team (LAMRT) with a view to providing some off-road driving training for members of his team.
Mountain Rescue Teams in the Lake District seldom have the requirement to drive completely off road during rescues. They normally drive on tracks and, when the track ends, the team members continue on foot. Many of their rescues involve the same approach route and thus they find themselves driving some tracks on a regular basis. The LAMRT is singular in that many of its tracks are narrow and obstacle-strewn.
This pattern changes with the involvement of the teams in crises other than mountain rescue, such as floods, aircraft crashes and other disasters, which may occur off the beaten track. Because of their skills, equipment, availability and local knowledge, rescue teams can make a valuable contribution to such events. It has to be said that, being the people they are, such a call for help would never go unanswered. So the need for true off-road driving begins to escalate.
The mix was further thickened by the fact that some team members had had previous off-road training while others were beginners. The course therefore had to be flexible enough not to drive the more experienced to boredom nor the novices to panic.
It was felt that sufficient training could be given to multiples of three drivers in courses lasting one full day. These started in the Spring of 2009, some twenty-one drivers being trained.
The courses were, from my point of view, successful. All members departed with a number of techniques well and truly absorbed, a useful amount of theory covered which would lead them away from doing anything daft and a good understanding of when to go no further. It helped tremendously that all drivers were highly intelligent, keen to learn and were naturally used to assessing risk. That they were also, without exception, humorous and really nice people provided the icing on the cake.