Rescue tally falls and mountain death toll down

Date: Tuesday 4th April 2017
Rescuers are relieved that the number of accidents involving mountain bikers has reduced on the Lakeland fells
Rescuers are relieved that the number of accidents involving mountain bikers has reduced on the Lakeland fells

THE annual tally of mountain rescue incidents in the Lakes fell by 100 in 2016, according to new statistics.

Teams were called out to 436 incidents in 2016, compared to 536 the previous year.

The number of incidents returned to the levels last seen five years ago, said a new report by the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association (LDSMRA).

Better weather in 2016 and fewer hill-walking catastrophes are among the reasons for the drop.

The association said: “Reasons for this are speculative but may result from less severe weather, lower visitor numbers or better preparation by hillgoers.”

Mountain biking accidents were also down on previous years and less climbers and scramblers got into difficulty.

Nonetheless, eight people lost their lives on the hills last year, although the association said this was an “extraordinary reversal” on the 30 deaths seen in 2015.

Four people died as a result of a medical collapse during a walk. All of the hill walking deaths related to men aged 61 to 70. The association is the umbrella body for the 12 teams serving Cumbria, including local teams such as Patterdale, Penrith, Keswick, Kirkby Stephen and the Clifton-based Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs.

Chairman Richard Warren wrote: “For the year as a whole incident numbers were down. Of particular relief, there has been a major reduction in the worrying trend for mountain bike accidents. These are down from 37 in 2015 to just 15 last year. A really positive reduction.”

The months of June, July and August were the busiest months for call-outs.

“July and August were very busy for the teams with around 80 ‘999’ calls handled in August alone.

“As a very busy region, we remain proud and privileged to be able to provide our voluntary and free service to those we rescue. This is only possible through the generosity of those we rescue and the people visiting or living within our communities,” wrote Mr. Warren.

Slips, trips and stumbles accounted for 126 of incidents followed by 93 falls or tumbles.

Nearly 60 people become lost or disorientated, and 34 people suffered a medical collapse or illness. Thirty people were overdue or missing.

The most common injury is a fracture with there being 72 of these in 2015. A total of 21 suffered from pain or tenderness and five from exhaustion. Ankle injuries were the most common.

Mr. Warren paid tribute to the Cumbria Community Foundation which provided funding for flood and swift water response rescues.

Of relying on mobile phones in the hills, the association said: “There is no doubt that using mobile phones has saved lives.” But it added: “Do not use a mobile phone at the first sign of trouble. Be self-reliant if possible.”