The rescue by the crew from RAF Boulmer

The rescue by the crew from RAF Boulmer

RAF helicopter crews showed ’spectacular skills’ in rescuing a five-year-old girl and her mother who were winched from a Lakeland ravine after falling 9m (30ft) into freezing water.

The incident happened on Sunday as the pair were coming down from Walla Crag near Keswick with a party of walkers. Their walking companions helped the mother and child from the beck, in Cat Gill, and called for help.

Members of Keswick Mountain Rescue Team went to their aid. A spokesperson for the team said: “Due to the potential seriousness of their injuries a Sea King helicopter was called from RAF Boulmer.

“Both casualties were treated at the scene by the team. The daughter was winched by stretcher into the helicopter and transferred to Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, while the team continued to treat the mother.

“The helicopter returned from Carlisle to collect the mother, again winched by stretcher to the aircraft, and transferred her also to Cumberland Infirmary.

“Thanks to the quick actions of the casualty’s husband in getting them out of the icy water of the stream, the risks to both casualties of serious hypothermia were reduced.”

A short time later, the team was called to help two climbers cragfast on Blencathra. The pair were trapped on a crag above Scales Tarn and the RAF Sea King, which was returning the Keswick MRT’s equipment, winched the two climbers to safety as team members descended from the summit.

The spokesperson said: “Again, the risk of hypothermia in the freezing conditions was averted. In both of these rescues, the skills of the RAF crews were spectacularly demonstrated.”

The team’s newly bought ice raft was put into use the following morning when a member of the public reported hearing shouts about 8.30am in the Hawes End area of Derwent Water. Fearing someone had fallen through ice on the lake, the team deployed its full range of equipment and the RAF Boulmer helicopter made a sweep of the area using its infra-red camera, but no casualty was found.

Another cragfast walker, this time on Helvellyn’s western slopes, meant a callout for the team at 3.30pm that day. The walker was helped uninjured from a steep snow-covered slope on the fell, above Wythburn church, by members of the team.

The rescue wrapped up a busy period for the team, which started on Saturday with a report of flashing lights on a Borrowdale gill. The team responded to the report at 8pm and discovered climbers on the crag in Comb Gill were packing up and preparing to return to the valley after a winter climb.

The team had also helped the ambulance service reach a woman with a dislocated shoulder near Threlkeld who couldn’t be reached by ambulance on New Year’s Day.

The Keswick team, in common with many volunteer mountain rescue teams, is facing a huge increase in its workload, with six callouts and three further alerts so far this year. This follows the busiest year on record in 2009, with 136 full-team callouts and 30 alerts – 50 per cent up on the previous busiest year, 2008.

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