WHILE it may be summer, Cheshire’s emergency services are already preparing for the worst incidents winter can offer.

Crews returned to Manchester’s Chill Factore to test their multi-casualty response to a collision in extreme snowy weather.

An even bigger and more ambitious Operation Winter Storm was organised and run by Cheshire Police’s Rural Crime Team.

They were joined by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, Cheshire Search and Rescue, mountain rescue teams, National Highways, and Electricity North West.

Experts spoke about rescuing and treating casualties in extreme weather conditions, and the impact of extreme weather on emergency and voluntary rescue services.

There was also an exhibition showcasing the kit that could be used by emergency services in extreme situations, along with mini rescue scenarios played out in -5C snowy conditions to test skills and learn from the immersive experience.

The main exercise putting the rescue teams to the test went on into the evening.

Organiser Sergeant Rob Simpson, from Cheshire Police’s Rural Crime Team, said: “The exercises test how our emergency and voluntary rescue services respond to a serious road traffic collision in challenging snowy conditions at night.

“This year, we expanded it to incorporate more services to see how we can work together more effectively to rescue those in danger safely, at the same time as keeping each other safe in hazardous conditions.

Emergency crews prepare for a severe winter incident

Emergency crews prepare for a severe winter incident

“Experts in the field gave valuable insights into extreme weather rescue, adding a wealth of advice to help us when we were put through our paces.

“We know that every year, despite warnings, people can get caught out by the snow, and the conditions for driving can be challenging – that is when people get into trouble and need our help.

“Conditions can be precarious, with the sudden change in the weather making it challenging for emergency services trying to rescue those stranded, and in some cases, injured.

“Such immersive experiences are important in helping us understand how to work together in such conditions, so that you can rely on us when you really need us.

“Being in the simulated conditions helped us to understand what challenges we face and how to get around them.

“We certainly came away with a lot of learning, which will help us and you when winter comes around.”

Dave Buckland, a station manager from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “The cold is unforgiving and puts everyone in a potentially dangerous environment.

“Working together like this helps us to create a coordinated and safe response, which is vital when attending rescues.

“The exercise was challenging and tested our crews, equipment, procedures, and capabilities to ensure we are better prepared in the future, so I would like to thank Chill Factore and the coordinators for this opportunity.”