The Wasdale team in action on the mountain in winter conditions

The Wasdale team in action on the mountain in winter conditions

Mountain rescuers in the Lake District have appealed to hillgoers only to request help if they are seriously injured or ill.

The umbrella body for 12 Cumbrian teams said those with minor injuries may have to make their own way to hospital once rescuers have got them safely off the hill.

The plea came as rising Covid-19 cases put NHS services under increased pressure. The Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Organisation said some services are at breaking point.

Richard Warren, chairman of the organisation, said visitors in the area should think carefully about plans for outdoor activities. “We would like to reiterate our previous lockdown stance in relation to the virus,” he said.

“This is a necessary reminder to protect our volunteer team members and their families as well as the casualties themselves.

“If you do need help in the mountains call 999 ask for Cumbria police, mountain rescue. However, only call upon mountain rescue as a last resort, if you are seriously injured or suffering from a medical issue, and cannot physically get yourself off the hill.

“We will attend, but with the absolute minimum number of team members needed to complete the task. Because of this, the evacuation will be less straightforward and the overall time to transport you to full medical attention will be much longer.

“For minor injuries you may also be clinically discharged at the roadside and asked to organise your own transport home or to your own local hospital as the ambulance crews are under great pressure.

“Helicopter support will only be requested by mountain rescue teams through the police if a time-critical injury is sustained, but this is not a guarantee of availability as helicopter operations in the mountains are complex and limited by weather conditions and other demands on the service.”

Rescuers added that hill-goers should be properly equipped during winter months. They said teams had encountered extremely ill equipped groups on the hills recently. An ice-axe and crampons, along with sufficient winter mountaineering experience, are needed. People should also comply with the latest strict government lockdown rules.

The Westminster government has legislated to make it unlawful for people in England to leave their homes except in specific cases, which includes exercise. However, guidance says this should be in people’s local areas.

Mr Warren said: “We are asking all hill-goers to be considerate of the resources of the emergency services at this time.

“We can all help by staying at home, only exercising locally to our villages, towns and cities, avoiding risky activities and high mountain terrain, sticking to lowland paths and walkways while strictly observing social distancing principles and the new government lockdown rules.

“There is good and essential advice on the website Adventure Smart UK. So stay safe, stay at home: #BeAdventureSmart; make your good day better. Help Cumbria get ready to reopen safely, when the time is right.”

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