Wasdale Mountain Rescue Teams in PPE during a stretcher carry on a hot, humid day

Wasdale Mountain Rescue Teams in PPE during a stretcher carry on a hot, humid day

Rescuers in the Lake District have appealed to hillgoers to know their limits and stay in them.

The plea follows a sharp rise in the number of callouts for the area’s 12 teams in the past week.

The Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, the umbrella body for teams in the national park and Cumbria, said that, while they will still respond to accidents and medical emergencies, it will take longer to reach casualties because of Covid-19 precautions.

And getting lost is avoidable, the organisation said.

An association spokesperson said: “The numbers of callouts over the past week has increased dramatically with 17 compared to none the previous week.

“We are now on day 100-plus since the 23 March lockdown and the picture for the forthcoming months is starting to look grim.

“Although there were only 38 callouts since the end of March – 28 injuries, one medical, seven searches and two others – compared to 141 in 2019, nearly half of these incidents occurred within the last seven days.”

The rescuers issued advice to walkers and other outdoor enthusiasts to keep the teams’ callouts to a minimum.

The spokesperson said: “The message is very clear. Getting onto the fells for healthy exercise is really good but you must know your limits.

“Keep within those limits and avoid taking risks. Know your own level of skill, competence and experience and those of your group. Make sure you have the right equipment for your trip to the hills and valleys noting that many of our callouts are low down in the valley bottoms.

“Learn how to navigate; don’t rely on smart phone technology – it can let you down. Take a torch, even on the longest days. You never know when your activity will catch you out or you go to the help of a fallen, cragfast or lost walker.”

Rescuers said during the coronavirus pandemic their operating protocols have changed to protect casualties and team volunteers, who may have the virus but be asymptomatic.

“Our procedures include the wearing of personal protective equipment, maintaining social distancing where possible and decontamination processes at the end of the rescue,” the spokesperson said. “All this inevitably slows down the rescue.

“This is unfortunately unavoidable and we ask for your patience and understanding if you are unfortunate in having an accident or medical emergency. We will come to your aid but it will take longer than usual.

“However, becoming lost or overdue is totally avoidable. Finally be considerate to the local communities, take your litter home and keep the roads clear for emergency vehicles and farm traffic.

“Parking vehicles in passing places or on grass verges blocking field entrances is irresponsible and can seriously compromise rescues.”

The association said information and guidance for hillgoers was available on the Adventure Smart website.

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