The walker suffered a suspected heart attack on Swirral Edge

The walker suffered a suspected heart attack on Swirral Edge

Rescuers have released more details of the incident in which a man died on England’s third highest mountain.

They revealed one of their members had to be airlifted to hospital after injuring his leg during the operation.

Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team was preparing its base for its annual open day yesterday, Saturday, when police contacted leaders to say they had received a 999 call from Helvellyn.

A team spokesperson said: “The day started at about 8.30am for the team. It was the team’s annual open day and team members were preparing the base, tidying up, moving vehicles and trailers, and beginning to set out cakes for the pending visitors later in the day.

“We were aiming to welcome previous casualties and supporters and raise awareness of our need for new radios and additional funding.

“At about 10.30, just before the base was due to be opened to the public, the team received a pager message from Cumbria police. A few minutes earlier the police had received a broken 999 call from a man reporting that his father-in-law was suffering from chest pains on Helvellyn.

“At this point the preparation for the open day stopped. The team members who were sweeping up and preparing the base quickly began to pull on waterproof clothing and get their kit together to deploy to the mountain. Two Land Rover Defender ambulances left base a few minutes later with 10 rescuers on board and full medical kit.”

The Patterdale MRT team leader said: “When a 999 call is received we do everything we can to gather as much useful information as possible as the team deploys.

“Often the police have done this really well for us but the 999 call dropped out initially. In this instance, all we knew was that the casualty was seriously ill and on Helvellyn and a few minutes later we heard that CPR was in process.

“We didn’t have an accurate location from the 999 call and so attempted to call the informant’s mobile phone. The nature of the mountain terrain means that this isn’t always possible and this was one of those instances. With the absence of hard facts, we left base with blue lights and sirens and headed as far as we could into the mountains.

“At the time of the 999 call the team requested two helicopters. One, the air ambulance, because of its rapid response and medical staff and the other, a Coastguard helicopter from Wales, because of its extended capability including the ability to winch.

“Whilst the team were on route we managed to ‘fix’ the 999 caller’s mobile phone which gave us an accurate location of the incident. This was high up Swirral Edge and in cloud.”

The leader said the team made its way on foot from Brown Cove climbing up on to Swirral Edge, arriving about an hour after the initial call. The air ambulance paramedic and doctor arrived a few minutes ahead of the team, having been flown near to Red Tarn.

“Given the weather conditions the air ambulance wasn’t able to return to the area and made its way to the rescue base in Patterdale to stand by. A few minutes later the Coastguard rescue helicopter arrived on scene. Again, due to the weather, it wasn’t able to get close to the casualty site.

“Sadly, the man was pronounced dead at about 11.50. The team knows all too well how difficult this is for all concerned and the thoughts of all team members are with the man’s family and friends.

“Given the difficult position, high on the ridge, the Coastguard helicopter returned to base to collect additional equipment so that the team could lower the man to Red Tarn, and hopefully below the cloud so that the helicopter could assist with his evacuation.

“The weather was difficult and in the end the team lowered the man on a stretcher all the way to Glenridding mines. As always, we were very grateful to our colleagues from Kirkby Stephen and Penrith Mountain Rescue Teams who came to our aid.

“He was the sixth person to die on the mountain this year – all in unrelated incidents and with no common theme.

“On the way down the mountain one of our team members sustained a leg injury and was unable to proceed. We requested support from Kirkby Stephen Team members, who quickly brought a stretcher to our location. However, given the nature of the team member’s injuries and the length of time the team had been out we requested the help of the Great North Air Ambulance which returned and evacuated the team member back to base.

“At the same time as this was going on, the team received another 999 call pager message reporting a woman as injured near to Dove Crag. The team dispatched remaining members to this location along with members of Kirkby Stephen MRT and Penrith MRT.

“We also called Langdale Ambleside MRT given the location, which was right on the border of the two teams’ areas. In the end, another air ambulance was able to assist and this woman was recovered to Langdale base in Ambleside a few hours later.

“This was a full-on day for all involved and 2015 is now officially the busiest year in the team’s history.”

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