Mountain rescuers at the scene of the gritting lorry incident. Photo: Patterdale MRT

Mountain rescuers at the scene of the gritting lorry incident. Photo: Patterdale MRT

Mountain rescuers had to dig through a quarter of a mile of snowdrifts to reach a patient with heart problems in Cumbria.

The area’s 10 volunteer teams were in action on numerous callouts helping emergency services as severe weather hit Cumbria.

The worst affected areas were in the centre and east of the county, with Penrith and Kirkby Stephen teams at the centre of the blizzard-hit countryside.

The mountain rescue teams used their 27 4×4 vehicles supporting police and ambulance staff, reaching patients needing urgent medication or treatment.

Richard Warren, of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, the umbrella body for the area’s teams, said: “During the 27th there were just two incidents but this increased to seven on the 28th and 17 deployments yesterday on 1March but many of these deployments were multi-incident deployments so the actual workload for the teams has been significantly higher.

“The teams are being tasked to rescue people in stranded vehicles, deliver essential medication to patients in remote areas, and attend 999 calls where the police, fire and rescue and ambulances cannot get to and patient transfers across and outside the county.

“There have also been the normal sledging incidents and callouts for incidents on the mountain.”

Mr Warren said Penrith and Kirby Stephen MRTs have been the busiest. The Penrith team dealt with 11 incidents on Thursday including a patient with heart problems where the team had to dig through snowdrifts for the last quarter mile to get there, a stranded train at Brampton, numerous stranded motorists and assistance to care patients requiring urgent medication.

Mr Warren said: “The longest rescue has been eight hours trying to reach a stranded foreign lorry driver already having spent 24 hours in his vehicle. They were driven back by 3m-high snowdrifts.

“They finished their rescuing at 4am today and will attempt to get to the still stranded lorry driver this morning. Penrith were assisted yesterday by Cockermouth and Patterdale MRTs. Kirby Stephen MRT are being assisted by Kendal and Duddon and Furness MRTs.”

As reported by grough, the Patterdale team was called out on Wednesday to aid a man who fell from his gritting lorry, suffering serious injuries.

Mr Warren said: “The gritting teams do a great job keeping us moving but as experienced, at great risk to themselves.

“The teams would urge drivers to avoid venturing out into those areas affected by the snow as directed by the police, the council and highways authority. It is also important not to blindly follow their satnavs where main roads are closed as the back roads are in a worse condition.

“Drivers need to be aware that when they have to abandon their cars they create blockages for the emergency services and indeed the snow ploughs and gritters that are doing their best to keep the roads clear.

“In addition to supporting the county on the roads there have been a number of mountain related incidents including sledging accidents so unless you know what you are doing, know the risks and your limits, have the right winter equipment and you are experienced using it we would strongly advise people not to venture on the high fells.

“Temperatures on the tops with windchill will be -20C to -30C and at these temperatures exposed skin will be at risk of frostbite.”

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