Rescuers had to wear full PPE gear on the incidents. Photo: NNPMRT

Rescuers had to wear full PPE gear on the incidents. Photo: NNPMRT

Rescuers in the North-East of England were called out on two successive days to help seriously injured mountain bikers.

Volunteers from the Northumberland National Park and North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Teams had to wear full personal protective equipment in temperatures reaching 28C.

The rescuers were called out shortly after 1.30pm on Thursday to Kielder Reservoir, where the cyclist had fallen and injured herself.

A team spokesperson said: “While the teams were being mobilised, the community paramedic, assisted by a team member from North of Tyne team assessed, treated and stabilised the casualty.

“She had serious injuries resulting from the fall. Luckily she was wearing a helmet which helped reduce the seriousness of the injuries.

“Kielder Reservoir is in the far West of the both teams’ operating area and getting rescuers across can be a challenge, but within an hour of the call going out, team members began to arrive.

“Any other day, this type of call out would be relatively straightforward, but like so many mountain rescue teams across the UK at present, the incident was made more complex because of the need for team members to don protective PPE before handling the casualty.”

The rescuers had to put on latex gloves, face masks, visors and waterproof jackets to help protect themselves, colleagues and the casualty.

Will Close-Ash, a volunteer with the national park team, said: “This was my first callout since the pandemic started so I was a bit nervous about getting into my PPE.

“However, both teams have spent a lot of time training members on how to put on and take off their equipment and how to manage any anxiety around operating in a Covid-19 environment. I felt completely safe.”

Rescuers used team vehicles on forest tracks to get close to the scene, then stretchered her to a waiting ambulance, maintaining social distancing and PPE protocols.

The spokesperson said: “Once the casualty was safely on board the ambulance, the team members could then begin the lengthy process of decontamination and cleaning of themselves and their equipment.”

The incident lasted just under four hours and involved 25 volunteers.

On Friday the team were mobilised again to the same area to assist an ambulance crew with another mountain biker with serious injuries who needed evacuating.

Team leader Iain Nixon said: “We wish both casualties a speedy recovery. It was great team work by all concerned in very hot conditions and I’d like to thank our colleagues in [North East Ambulance Service].

“I think that as we head towards summer, the public need to remember that if they do need us, there is an additional wait-time while our members don PPE, because of the extra risk that Covid-19 presents.”

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