Callouts during December are up almost three-quarters

Callouts during December are up almost three-quarters

Rescuers in the Lake District say they are concerned by the high number of incidents they have been called out to in December.

Most of the people who called for help in the past few weeks were from outside Cumbria, many from areas subject to tier-tier three restrictions.

Members of the constituent teams of the umbrella organisation, the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, responded to 31 calls for help this month, compared to 18 in the previous year – an increase of 72 per cent.

Figures for those reported lost or missing showed the largest increase: 17 emergency calls, up from just six in 2019.

Richard Warren, chairman of the LDSMRA, said these incidents could easily be avoided by good planning and preparation, checking the weather forecast and having the right gear and skill to get out of trouble and stay safe.

“Team members are all unpaid volunteers and we must protect them from asymptomatic Covid casualties, even more so with the new strain that has already arrived in Cumbria,” he said.

“We understand why people want to leave their tier-three and tier-four areas, taking advantage of the wide open spaces in our parks but please remember that if a team is infected on a rescue it can mean the whole team has to isolate.

“This has to be avoided at all costs.”

Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery of Cumbria Constabulary said: “The voluntary mountain rescue teams in Cumbria do a fantastic job, responding to incidents in all weathers throughout the year.

“All the team members have had to take additional Covid precautions this year and that has added to the burden of routine callouts. There is always the potential for accidents on our fells and they can happen to anybody, but where callouts are avoidable through a lack of planning and preparation this just puts team members and their loved ones at unnecessary risk.

“Venturing on to the fells at this time of year with limited daylight and extreme weather changes is a serious undertaking. Please adhere to the guidance on travel from tier three and four areas and ensure that any outdoor activities are done well within the limits of your experience and equipment.”

Mr Warren said: “What can you personally do to help protect our volunteer teams during the pandemic and especially over Christmas when time with our families is so precious?

“Exercise within your limits and avoid taking risks especially now that winter is here. Know your level of skill, competence and experience and those of your group.

“Make sure you have the right equipment for your trip to the hills. Learn how to navigate, take a waterproof map and a compass; don’t rely on smart phone technology – it can let you down. Take a torch; you never know when your activity will catch you out or you go to the help of a fallen, cragfast or lost walker. Take a powerbank battery charger; it will save you a lot of grief plus allow you to take even more of those memorable photos.”

He added: “There is good and essential advice on the website Adventure Smart UK, so stay safe: #BeAdventureSmart, make your good day better and hopefully enjoy an incident-free Christmas break with your family members.”

The Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association represents the 12 volunteer mountain rescue and mine rescue teams in Cumbria.

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