True Life Rescue Story 

Broken Ankle at Horn Crag, Slightside - Scafell

Tuesday 22 April 2008, 3.44 p.m.

(updated 4 May 08)

The following is the incident log of the rescue followed by an account written by the casualty.  I have included his account as it very accurately describes the events surrounding the incident before the rescue team gets to the scene of the accident and also some of the anxieties surrounding the delays.  Accidents can happen to all of us no matter how well we prepare for our walk, or how strong and fit we are.  This group was well prepared and experienced and did everything that they should do when they found themselves in difficulty.  Details of the casualty have been removed although he has given permission for the photos to be included as a means of conveying to others the role of mountain rescue.  The team is very grateful to be able to make use of the photos and letter.

Update 4/05/08 - The casualty and his party have kindly sent photographs of the events leading up to the rescue team arriving and during the casualty care stages.  These have been added.

2008:27 22/04/08 (3.44 p.m.) - Tuesday  

Police paged the team to assist a 65 year old male who had slipped and suffered an ankle injury on Horn Crag, Scafell.  The party of four were had set off from Boot to climb Scafell and up in the Lakes on holiday from South London.  The gentleman was stretchered down to the valley and taken to Whitehaven hospital by ambulance. 18 team members involved on the incident and the base was closed at 8.30 p.m.  Video of the rescue here

[NY2091 0483]

I believe XXX  has sent you some pictures of my rescue! I also see that you have a distorted me on you tube!
I am at home now after being discharged from Whitehaven Hospital after they screwed up my leg wit a plate and 5 screws. I have a plaster cast on my leg which makes it difficult to use the pc at the moment!
I have no objection to my picture being used on the web site nor any of the others that have been taken by other people. I also have a Garmin mapping of the route we took until the accident if it is of any interest.
I would like to help the team if I could as I was more than impressed with the care and attention I received. I just could not believe that so many people would come out to get me off that mountain. They way it was done and the small touches like the chap who got in the back of the landrover wedging himself so I would not fall forward. It was incredible.  The most memorable thing I think was the way it all developed.
We rang 999 - Fire Police or Ambulance - no mountain rescue. So we called the ambulance! Then the Police. Then we made contact. How long ; about an hour. We watched the sheep - every one that was on a path became a human - then they stopped and went off!! After an hour XXXX  walked round a bit of the mountain to see if any one was coming. Nothing. Whole plateau in front of us off Horn Crag and no one to be seen. Then a head pops up just in front of us carrying a red rucksack coming towards us. One person. He unpacked; sat down beside me kept the wind off me and was very comforting. A few minutes later another person appeared. Now there were two. How are two people going to get me off this mountain? They fixed my leg in a blow up splint. They gave me an injection in my other leg to relieve the pain (still have the bruise!), Another man appeared. Then I began to understand. They all came independently (1) and all carried different equipment. It was a revelation. I have never seen such a well organised TEAM!
You have probably heard this all before but to me in the state I was in it was incredible.
I was transferred down the mountain on a sledge. They didn't use the path, they went across the moss - easier for dragging sledges. Eventually after not being able to see anything we descended 'over the side' . Now at 45 degrees I could see Brotherikeld Farm and new where I was. We gained a track got LIFTED over becks and rough ground to a gate. I could not believe that they had no key - the farmer had locked the gate!!  (2)  I had to be lifted over this 6 foot high gate to get to the landrover and transported down the field. Then on down the farm track with eventual switch to the ambulance at the Woolpack.
The rest was a story for West Cumberland Hospital, but without the speedy and kind way I was brought down I don't know what would have happened.
Anyway, my leg hurts now(!) . Please let me know if you want the pics or the Garmin route. I would like to make a donation to 'club funds' If I may, where should I send it?
Best Regards


[Our casualty]

Note (1) - Team members travel at different speeds - normally the advance will get away first with 5 on board who carry the essential first aid equipment.  This is followed by the back up parties.  Most of the team members will have traveled to the  Rescue Base in Gosforth

Note (2) - Teams regularly lift casualties over gates and this one was not a problem for us.


Group setting off from Boot in Eskdale, heading up the Burmoor Tarn Path

On the western flank of Scafell looking SW across Burnmoor Tarn

To the west is the back of the Screes with Illgill Head. the highest point on the horizon

To the south is Great How, Eskdale Fell - group looking up to the summit of Scafell

The long pull up Green How with views of Wastwater in the background

Looking across to the north is Kirk Fell and Gable 

The casualty (on the left) just before the accident - summit of Scafell

Looking across Great Moss, Upper Eskdale towards Bowfell on the left and the skyline of Crinkle Crags in the shadow 

Resting waiting for the team to arrive

Team on scene - inspecting the injury, casualty care card being written up as the inspection proceeds which is handed over to the ambulance/hospital for post accident assesments.

Information being relayed to the rescue base in Gosforth

Inflatable splint on his left leg, analgesia has been given and now oxygen to help keep O2 levels up


To protect the casualty from the wind and weather a bivvy tent is used (bright yellow)


Casualty's can warm up very quickly when they are out of the wind

First half of the Bell stretcher arrives on scene


When both halves arrive, the stretcher is assembled

Securely strapped onto the Bell stretcher in a warm casualty bag

Being sledged off, down the mountain towards bottom of Hardknott in Eskdale

Looking back up towards Slight Side and Horn Crag (highest point visible) where the gentleman fractured his ankle

Back down to the vehicle at the intake wall (still a good mile from the road) - he was transported to the road in the Landrover (which also serves as an ambulance)

Transferred to the ambulance at the Woolpack Inn - still a 40 minute journey by road to West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven


Page created 30/04/08