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Patterdale team member serious after rescue fall PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Walsh   
Monday, 08 February 2021

rescuer injured.pngA volunteer mountain rescuer is in a serious condition in hospital after he fell almost 500ft during a callout.

Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team said their colleague suffered life-changing injuries during the ‘avoidable’ incident.

The 60-year-old member of the Patterdale team suffered serious injuries, reported to include spinal damage and facial trauma.  

The rescuer was airlifted by a Coastguard helicopter from Red Screes above Kirkstone Pass in the early hours of Saturday.

The team had been called out to a walker camping on the mountain who had chest pains.

A spokesperson for the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, the umbrella body for team in Cumbria, said the experienced Patterdale team member fell about 150m on steep ground while making his way to the incident site.

“No one sets out on the fells with the intention of having an accident, and our thoughts are also with the original caller who became ill whilst camping on the fells,” the spokesperson said.

“However, the simple truth is that the more people who are out walking in the Lakeland fells, the higher the chances that our mountain rescue teams will be called out.

“Rescues are much more challenging during the coronavirus pandemic. Our team members need to operate in PPE, and many of our volunteers also have full-time jobs as key workers in the NHS and other essential services.

“We are very grateful to the very many people who have chosen to stay local for exercise during this time, and would encourage everyone to follow the government guidance currently in place.

“This is clearly a very difficult time for the family of the injured team member, and for members of Patterdale Mountain Rescue team, and we are asking that their privacy is respected.”

Penrith and Langdale Ambleside teams were called in to support Patterdale MRT during the incident and the original patient was stretchered from the hill by the teams involved and taken to hospital by the North West Ambulance Service.

Two men who prompted the call-out in which the mountain rescue volunteer was seriously injured have been handed a £200 penalty by police.

The 47-year-old from Leicester and his companion from Liverpool received the fixed penalties for breaking coronavirus regulations.

The pair had travelled to camp on Red Screes (pictured below) in the Lake District but the Leicester man began feeling unwell and called for help.

He was airlifted from the mountain by a Coastguard helicopter and flown to hospital in Preston, where he remains in a serious but stable screes.png

The camper who was suffering chest pains was taken by ambulance to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and was subsequently discharged the same day.

Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery of Cumbria police, chair of the Cumbria Resilience Forum, said: “The thoughts of everybody at Cumbria Constabulary and agencies of the Cumbria Resilience Forum are with the rescuer who has been injured and his family. We are all hoping he makes a full recovery.

“The volunteers of our mountain rescue teams really are the fourth emergency service in Cumbria and their selflessness, dedication and professional training is called upon by hundreds of people every year.

“Mountain rescuers have been at the forefront of the county’s response to the Covid crisis, just as they are whenever the county faces civil emergencies or natural disaster. I have been in touch with the mountain rescue leaders throughout the weekend and we will do everything we can to support their members through this difficult time.

“Mountain rescue is inherently dangerous but accidents like this are thankfully very rare as a result of the preparation and training put in by every team.

“Sadly, those risks cannot be eliminated altogether. Accidents can happen to any of us who use the mountains and the men who called for help on this occasion could have had no idea of what was to happen.

“However, the health protection regulations make it an offence to travel together and stay away from home overnight in these circumstances and to camp overnight on a mountain top in winter conditions is a serious undertaking. The men concerned have been issued with fixed penalty notices of £200 which is the only legal penalty available in these circumstances.

“We would appeal to everyone to stay at home as much as possible, exercise locally, and stay well within the limits of their own experience and equipment when exercising in the outdoors.

“It is vital that anybody venturing onto the fells in winter takes note of the weather forecasts and mountain conditions before setting off. Now is not a time to be taking unnecessary risks as our ambulance service and hospitals are still under extreme pressure from high numbers of Covid patients.”

Mike Blakey, operational lead for the 12 rescue teams of the Lake District and a Patterdale team member said: “I cannot stress enough the message to stay at home during lockdown.

“This rescue, and the subsequent life-changing injuries incurred by our team member, were avoidable.

“Rescue team members are volunteers who train extensively to rescue others in the most atrocious weathers and in inhospitable places. However, the risks are always there and the impact of an incident like this is far reaching across the rescue and emergency services family.

“On behalf of the casualty’s family I would like to formally thank everyone involved in the rescue of our team member, including the medics and helicopter crew, and the amazing support he has received so far since being admitted to hospital.

“Of course, our priority is now to support him and his family.”

  • A GoFundMe page has been set up with a target of raising £10,000 for the injured mountain rescuer.

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