BARC North West Rescue star at United Kingdom Rescue Organisation Extrication Challenge

BARC NW Rescue were proud to be invited by Motorsport UK to compete at the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation (UKRO) Extrication Challenge in October. 

The UKRO is at the forefront of development and innovation in the field of professional rescue. The annual National Rescue Challenge event invites rescue teams from fire and rescue services across the UK to compete across 7 categories of rescue challenges. It is also an opportunity to shine a light on aspects of the fire and rescue service that are less well known, and provides an opportunity to share key safety and prevention messages with attending members of the public.

This year’s event was hosted by West Midlands Fire Service on behalf of the UKRO in Smithfields, Birmingham. Around 40 fire and rescue services took part in the event where expert assessors judged teams over a range of challenges, including urban search and rescue, water rescue, rope rescue, trauma care, and extrication (releasing casualties from crashed vehicles).

In a first for the challenge, permission was granted for a motorsport Rescue Unit to compete against the professional emergency services. BARC NW were chosen by Motorsport UK to represent the sport and to showcase the professional standard of our volunteer motorsport Rescue Crews.

Preparation began several months before the competition took place in October. The BARC NW crew were supported by Ian Dunbar OBE, Rescue Specialist at the FIA and former UKRO Assessor. Several Zoom sessions were arranged so that the team could be coached on all aspects of the challenge and more specifically the assessment criteria that they would be judged against.

As well as attending multiple events at race circuits around the UK, the BARC NW crew undertake a rigorous training regime every season. Before any racing starts the crew have about 7 days of training under their belts. In downtime at race events there is often time available to swot up on techniques and familiarise themselves with equipment (technical and medical). This was added to with 2 further days in the yards of SYNETIQ, the UK’s leading integrated salvage and vehicle recycling company, honing technical and extrication skills on scrap vehicles. This was in addition to watching many hours worth of video from previous UKRO challenges and other extrication events.

As the competition began, the BARC NW Rescue team were given the opportunity to work alongside world champions and the best of the best in extrication from fire and rescue services across the UK, as well as a fire and rescue crew from the Ukraine who had been specially invited for this years’ event. Teams of 6 from thirty fire and rescue services took part in the Extrication Challenge. The teams each took part in two timed extrication runs which were overseen by 3 UKRO Assessors, focussing on Command and Control, Technical and Medical skills. As well as the timed runs, the team also took part in vehicle location and HGV workshops.

Away from the challenge arena, the team were fortunate to be supported by James Bletchley, Officials Pathway Manager, Motorsport UK and Rescue Unit Chief, Colin Whitter. As well as supporting the team during their runs, they also showed members of the public and fire and rescue services around the BARC NW Rescue Unit, which was on display in the Community Village area of the event, and encouraged them to get involved as a motorsport volunteer.

“This was the first time that UKRO had allowed a motorsport Rescue Unit to compete against the professional fire and rescue services from across the UK,” explains James. “The level of dedication and training required to compete in this event underlines the highly professional standards of volunteers in UK motorsport; and this weekend showcased that at the highest level. The team should be very proud of themselves!”

“We have learned so much as a team from this and held our own as a volunteer motorsport rescue crew against top professional teams,” reflected Shaun Miller, BARC NW Rescue Team Incident Commander, “We gained a lot of respect from the teams and UKRO assessors. This was an experience we want to repeat, and also take into our way of working going forwards. Well done to the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue team for winning overall. Thanks go to Ian Dunbar, James Betchley, and the continued support of SYNETIQ.”