Thursday, 26 November 2015

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Cumbrian rescue team leader frustrated by inconsiderate fell walkers

A group of walkers has been criticised after calling for help on top of the fells – and then forgetting to tell rescuers they were safe.

Penny Kirby photo
Penny Kirby

The three dialled 999 at about 3.30pm on Sunday, telling police they were “in difficulty” in the Scafell area and needed help.

Wasdale Mountain Rescue team leader Penny Kirby said that they had had a number of call-outs to Scafell over the weekend, predominantly to lost walkers – most of whom made their own way off the fells.

She explained: “We didn’t mobilise an immediate rescue, because where they said they were and what they were describing they could see did not tie up – we actually don’t think they were where they thought they were.

“The initial police log said that we may struggle to get back in contact with them, but we had an agreement in place that if I hadn’t got in contact within 20 minutes, then they were to call 999 again.”

Despite this, the only contact the teams ever had was the initial desperate call.

While Penny had decided to mobilise a team up the fells, she said a team member who was already out walking had headed in the Scafell direction to hunt for them.

In addition, members from Wasdale, Keswick and Langdale and Ambleside mountain rescue teams spent hours searching the car parks in and around the Lake District to try and find the walkers’ vehicle – and therefore have a better idea where to search.

Penny added: “The police no doubt left messages for them, and I left several messages and text messages. The longer it goes on, you start to think the worst: have they walked off safely, or are they injured? Are they hypothermic?”

Almost five hours after dialling 999, Cumbria Police managed to make contact with the group.

They had managed to find their way safely off the fells on their own, and were already in their vehicle heading back to Lincolnshire.

Penny said: “It is incredibly frustrating – I had phoned around local taxi firms and hotels and farms where we know people often go to use a phone.

“None of them had seen them.

“Then we find out they are nice and warm in a car.

“Every single one of the call-outs this weekend could have been avoided.”


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