First Shout On The Hill

Rescue 03/05 - 22 December 2002


The following story was written by Paul, one of our probationary members who joined the team early last year and attended his first rescue in December.  The search for the two missing walkers was into the second day and due to the adverse conditions the previous night, the team were very concerned and keen to get as many people onto the fell as possible to locate them quickly and get them safely off the hill.  The actual record of the rescue can be read by clicking here and scrolling down to rescue No. 5

Page created 13 January 2003


ďFirst Shout On The HillĒ

As a probationary member of Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team, the one thing that I  looked forward to more than anything was the first time out on the fells with the team in a real rescue scenario. 

Probationers are not generally called out on rescues until the latter stages of the probationary period, which is approximately one year for the average candidate. The first few times that the probationer is called out it is with the intention of remaining at the base to help with base operation. This enables him/her to learn about radio communication and how a rescue is co-ordinated, but all probationers know that at some stage there will be a call out when he/she is going to be more use to the team out on the fells than back at base. For me, this day arrived on Sunday 22nd December 2002 at a few minutes past eight in the morning. 

The phone rang. I was fast asleep in bed, but awoke with a jolt. By the time I had picked up the phone, whoever it was had hung up. I donít know if I am the only one who feels this way, but as a probationer I get a rush of adrenalin every time the phone rings. I assume that every call is a ďshoutĒ and sometimes I am very disappointed when it isnít. Itís not that I am wishing for someone to be lost or injured on the fells. It is more about wanting to be of value to someone who might be in that situation. For me it is also about being part of the team and not being left out if something is happening. 

I rang 1471 to check. I didnít immediately recognise the number but the dialling code suggested to me that it could be a shout. I was frustrated when it was an answer machine, I remember swearing, but at least I knew that it was a fellow probationer that had been trying to ring me. After a few minutes he rang back and explained the scenario. Within five minutes I was on my way with all my kit. I was heading for Mill Forge (the WMRT headquarters) and I knew that there was a good possibility that I might be needed on the fells.

 A brief summary of the scenario was that the team, along with several other teams had been out searching all night for a lost couple who had not turned up at their B&B. Their car had been found at Seathwaite. 

It takes just under twenty minutes to get to Mill Forge from home. I am one of the team members who live furthest away from the base. Twenty minutes seems like hours when you are called out. Many things went through my mind during that journey. Would I be allowed to help searching on the fells, what state might the missing couple be in, even if they havenít fallen or injured themselves in any way. What state would the team members be in having been out all night etc. I made a decision that when I arrived at base I was going to assume that I was needed on the fells. I was also going to make it obvious that I was determined to get out on the fells. After all, I had fresh legs and had slept for ten hours.

 I arrived at base eager to find out what was happening. I found the briefing room full of people from other rescue teams and a few from Wasdale team. When the others had been briefed, they left and the few remaining Wasdale members gathered for their own separate briefing from Julian (the team leader). It soon became obvious that I was needed on the fells. I was relieved but now anxious for different reasons. I wanted the team to see me as a valuable asset. I didnít want to mess up in any way. My team colleagues had never seen me in this situation other than on practice sessions, and they certainly didnít know me well enough to know how I would manage if the search were particularly long or challenging. I attempted to display confidence in my ability and show how eager I was by volunteering for the group that was going to head straight up to Sca Fell Pike. I was encouraged to join the Lingmell party by team colleagues and soon we were on our way down the valley in the team vehicles. 

Once we were actually on foot, moving up hill, things seemed quite relaxed. It didnít feel much different to a practice session really. For me, there is a very proud sensation when I am out with the team. I get a real buzz from the team spirit and I feel as though I am contributing to something really important. The relaxed element comes from knowing what to do and following the same routine that everyone has practised. It also comes from the fact that it was turning out to be a very nice day to be out on the fells with your new mates, although we knew that it had been poor weather over night. I sensed that other walkers on the fell knew who we were and that they looked up to us. How true this is in reality I donít know. 

It soon became obvious that my legs were the freshest of the group. Some of the group had been on the search all night and one had turned out even though he was suffering from the flu. I really felt sorry for those guys, as it was obviously a great effort for them with tired legs and little energy. In some ways though, this was also a relief to me. I had been worried about my fitness due to an all day drinking session two days previously, as we had celebrated finishing work for the Christmas period. The booze literally poured from me as we searched. Iím so glad I didnít hold the team back. 

Soon it was confirmed on the radio that the couple had been found safe and well. They were in a position to walk down. At this stage everyone relaxed and I felt a great sense of achievement even though I had only played a very small part in a large operation. 

The walk down was a steady stroll with the lads, and I soon found myself catching up with the Sunday that had been planned. I had missed a Christening ceremony, but was able to meet up with everyone in the pub for lunch.  

Since that day nothing has changed. I still get a rush of adrenalin every time the phone rings. I believe that this feeling will continue for the duration of my time with Wasdale Mountain Rescue team. I am now looking forward to passing my probation and becoming a full team member.

 

Paul Fligg, WMRT

January 2003

 

Paul is 7th from the right

 

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