Mountain Rescuers Plea for Help
July 31, 2020
Police and Mountain Rescue Teams (MRTs) are seeing what’s been described as a “tidal wave” of avoidable rescues across the country that is putting lives at risk as well as a huge strain on volunteer team members. In July alone, there have been more than 230 call outs with the Peak District, North Wales and the Lake District accounting for nearly 150 of those.
“It is unsustainable,” said Richard Warren, Chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association (LDSAMRA). “Since last Friday evening (24 July) we’ve had 27 callouts in the Lake District. While many regular walkers, mountain bikers and climbers are very experienced and know exactly what they are doing, we’ve realized that about half of those callouts were truly avoidable with inexperienced and ill-prepared visitors finding themselves in serious, life-threatening trouble.”
Police have also commented that many in need of rescue are dialing in ‘999’ calls with as little as 1% battery remaining on their mobile phones.
“This means that, after the initial call, their battery dies and we cannot get back to them,” says Mike Margeson, MREW Operations Director. “This makes finding them a bigger challenge requiring more numbers of rescue volunteers. More and more walkers are relying on smart phone mapping apps and have no back up of a printed map and a compass for navigation. Phone batteries quickly get drained and then there’s no power available to do what only a phone can do – keep in touch and provide GPS information to rescuers.”
Staycation holidays are introducing a new type of visitor to the upland areas and beauty spots of England and Wales and the changing quarantine rules have the potential to make the matter worse.
“We need to reach the people who are maybe heading for the hills for the first time,” says Mike. “Just a few extra precautions, some planning and preparation and even people who are new to the mountains can keep themselves safe and enjoy a great day out.”
Simple measures to stay safe and avoid the avoidable call outs include:
- Exercise within your limits and fitness and avoid taking risks.
- Know your level of skill, competence and experience and those of your group.
- Check a local weather forecast, ideally one that focuses on the mountains if that’s where you’re planning to go.
- Make sure you have the right equipment for your trip.
- Learn how to navigate and take a waterproof map and a compass. Don’t rely on smart phone technology as it can let you down.
- Take a torch – even on the longest days, you never know when your activity will catch you out.
- Take a power bank battery charger as back up charge for your phone or make sure that at least one phone in your group is kept fully charged in case it’s needed for an emergency.
There is more advice on the Adventure Smart UK website, https://www.adventuresmart.uk/ that is all about Staying Safe: #BeAdventureSmart and make your good day better.