First Mountain Rescue
those readers who have no knowledge of mountain rescue, it’s purpose or indeed
the location of where this true story took place, I have included a little
background information to help.
The Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team is one of 13 voluntary rescue teams covering the mountain ranges located in the north west of England. This very popular tourist area is called the Lake District and attracts walkers and climbers from across the world. As with all outdoor activities, danger lurks around every corner and it is therefore wise to be well prepared before venturing out onto the mountains. Even so, accidents can happen to anyone of us as explained in the following story.
Richard Warren - Team Secretary, 20 March 2000
is a true account of one of our probationary team member’s first call-outs
with the team on what proved to be a very busy day during late spring,
At 4.30 am on a wet Sunday morning in May 1997 I was asleep in my ground
floor flat in Eskdale Green when a knock on my window woke me up. There was a
major rescue in progress on Scafell Pike, I was asked if I could attend having
just been accepted as a fell going member of the Wasdale Mountain Rescue team.
previous evening I had had a phone call informing me that I was now on the full
call out list, but I had not as yet received my pager.
I packed my rucksack as quick as I could and drove off to Millforge where
Julian Carradice, who was manning the base, told me that whisky bravo had just
left. A quick radio call was made to bravo and I ran and caught them up.
As this my was first official rescue Nick West informed me that I had
been volunteered to carry the 200 metres of backing rope up to Scafell.
information that we had about the incident was that a group six teenagers were
in difficulty whilst doing the three peaks challenge, a common occurrence in the
spring of 1997.
we left Brackenclose at 5.15 am it was getting light Paul McCracken and myself
took terms in carrying the 200 metres of rope up towards Lingmell Col and then
on to Scafell Pike.
We descended towards Mickledore and then found the casualty site. Three
of the casualties were able to walk down but the others were suffering from
hypothermia had to be carried.
Due to the large numbers of people involved the decision was taken to ask
the Millom rescue team for extra support. I spent 2-3 hrs in the survival tent
with two casualties and two members of the team. Martin Willey appeared and
offered cheese sandwiches contaminated with engine oil and cold coffee. No body
more team members arrived the three casualties were stretchered off down to
was now 11 am Howard Christie very kindly invited everyone back to the Wasdale
Head hotel for breakfast. We later drove back to Millforge and just as everyone
was prepared to stand down. I was due to be working that day taking a group from
Outward Bound Eskdale on the climbers traverse path on Napes to thread the
needle I felt that I could not let the group down so I phoned in saying I would
be back shortly but then…
Pattison received a call that there was another incident a suspected heart
attack on Slight Side. The advance party took off immediately to Brackenclose we
arrived soon afterwards in Whiskey Bravo with the back up group, caring the 200
metres of backing rope (again) stretcher etc. By this time the weather was foul
and the journey up via Green How to Slight Side was exhausting considering how
long most of us had been on the hill.
could hear on the radio that a helicopter was requested for assistance on the
scene. Shortly afterwards we heard the helicopter but due to very poor
visibility and strong winds it could not locate the casualty site. When I was
walking up the shoulder of Scafell we could hear and smell the burnt fumes of
the helicopter. We then heard on the radio "foxtrot" the casualty was
dead. There was no longer the need to hurry up the hill so we walked as quickly
as we could, regrouping on the summit of Scafell and then descended towards the
casualty site. All we where required to do was sledge the casualty off the hill.
Pattison turned to me and said,
"its not always as bad as this Andy, sometimes it is worse"
by one of our team members, Andrew Chapman for the 1999/2000 edition of our
yearbook, published March 1999.
you would like to learn more about British Mountain Rescue or make a small
donation to the team (we are a legally registered UK charity) then please
contact me – see details below.
Alternatively, you may wish to purchase a copy of our 1999/2000 Yearbook
at a cost of £3.00 (includes postage and packing).
This 78-page paperback includes many more stories, details of the
Team’s activities and a complete listing of all our rescues over a two-year
period. For more information call me, Richard Warren, Secretary Wasdale Mountain
Rescue Team on Tel. +44 (0) 1946 62176 or by E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org]