Fallen trees caused difficulties for the teams. Photo: NNPMRT

Fallen trees caused difficulties for the teams. Photo: NNPMRT

Volunteer rescuers in Northumberland had their busiest weekend of the year as Storm Arwen hit the North-East of England.

The Met Office issued a red weather warning for coastal areas in the county and members of the Northumberland Mountain Park Rescue Team and North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team prepared to go to the aid of people affected.

“It didn’t take long after the arrival of Storm Arwen before we received our first request for help,” team leader for the national park team, Iain Nixon, said.

At five minutes past midnight on Saturday morning, a request from Northumbria Fire and Rescue Service via Northumbria Police was received to help with a couple trapped in their vehicle near Embleton Terrace because of fallen trees.

“Mountain rescue members made their way to the couple’s location to offer assistance, but given the wind and fallen debris, progress was extremely difficult.”

Eventually team members reached the couple on foot and were able to evacuate the couple, and a mix of using their feet and a mountain rescue vehicle was used to eventually get the couple back to their home. “Apart from being very tired and concerned by the weather conditions, they were none the worse for their ordeal,” Mr Nixon said.

Into Saturday, both teams continued to receive requests for help from Northumbria Police, the fire service and the North East Ambulance Service. Alerts covered the whole of the Northumbria Police area from as far south as Allenheads all the way up to Chatton in the North.

The main focus of the volunteers’ efforts was the upper Coquet Valley, with incidents including responding to trapped motorists and missing persons.

Mr Nixon said: “Our volunteers have had a very busy 48-hour period and they are continuing to support local communities in upper Coquetdale on Monday by checking on vulnerable residents with medical conditions and providing welfare checks to outlying villages, hamlets and isolated properties.”

The teams had also been called out in the early hours of Friday by Northumbria Police to help search for a missing person in the Whittingham area. Team members responded along with two search and rescue dogs.

Within 2½ hours, mountain rescue volunteers found the missing person and were able to provide shelter, care and reassurance before escorting them to a waiting mountain rescue vehicle before being transferred to a waiting ambulance.

Keith Briggs, team leader for North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team said: “It was a fantastic outcome, given the time in the morning and conditions. Northumbria Police and the missing person’s family were very appreciative of the teams’ efforts.”

With wintry conditions set to return to the Northumberland national park and the wider area later this week and into next weekend, both teams were keen to remind hill-goers to have the appropriate equipment and experience when venturing out onto the local hills.

“While most walkers use their mobile phone for taking pictures or sending a message, it’s important that you always have enough charge to communicate with the emergency services,” Mr Nixon said.

“In addition to this, if you have an accident, think about how long you’ll have to wait before mountain rescue will get to you. Do you have enough clothing to keep warm?”

The rescue teams said information on keeping safe is on the Adventure Smart website.

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