The North Dartmoor team in action. Photo: North Dartmoor SRT

The North Dartmoor team in action. Photo: North Dartmoor SRT

A rescue team has had a busy first quarter of the year, with 16 callouts in 13 weeks.

Five of North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team’s moorland incidents unusually occurred within 4km of each other.

The team said six of its rescues have been on Dartmoor, with others across mid- and north Devon. Of the moorland callouts four were for lower leg or ankle injuries, two were evacuated by helicopter but two involved stretcher carries by the team, one in fairly miserable weather, according to a team spokesperson.

“Of the other two moorland callouts, one was for a group of young people, two of whom were suffering from the cold and were airlifted to hospital but released the same evening,” the spokesperson said. “The rest of the group was walked to safety by the team. The other moorland callout was to assist a family who’d become disorientated just before dark.”

The 10 non-moorland callouts have involved searches for missing people, often working alongside other emergency services: the police, fire brigade, Coastguard or other mountain rescue teams from across the region. They included the search for a missing junior doctor in north Devon and the river night search around Newton St Cyres.

Team leader Dave Stoneman said: “We’ve had a flurry of moorland call outs so far this year, more than in recent years for the same period.

“I can’t imagine there’s anything in it, but five of the six have all been within 4km of each other which, given the size of Dartmoor, is a little unusual.

“The other real difference for us has been we’ve been able to locate all the moorland casualties before we left our vehicles. Although we’ve mostly had accurate grid references from the casualties, through their mobile phones we’ve been able to locate them on our computerised mapping using a system called Sarloc.

“It makes a huge difference to the amount of time it takes us to reach people.”

The Sarloc system was developed by former Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation member Russ Hore. A hyperlink is sent to the casualty’s smartphone which, when followed, allows the team to pinpoint their position.

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