The Fell Rescue column with David Dennis

The fell rescue team attend the debrief after a recent lost person search. Photo: Sara Spillett
The fell rescue team attend the debrief after a recent lost person search. Photo: Sara Spillett
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Thanks to ever-improving technology our call outs and control of incidents has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years and continues to evolve.

Derek Hammond, an architect from Staveley, one of our four controllers explains how we operate.

“In the not too recent past Mountain Rescue Controllers could be seen directing the team members on an incident, they were usually recognised by their grey hair, well-worn jacket and extensive knowledge of the area.

Nowadays they are more likely to be sat in front of a computer screen either at our base or in our purpose-built control vehicle operating several different radio sets and liaising directly with the ambulance and police control rooms.

If you have had an accident or got lost away from a road you will, hopefully, have called the police and requested that they task the local Mountain Rescue Team.

The police control room will contact the team controllers using the SARCall system giving details of the incident and support required.

This system was developed by mountain rescuers to simplify and improve the calling out of mountain rescue by the police.

The SARCall log can be seen and edited by the Mountain Rescue Team, their neighbouring teams, police and ambulance control rooms and air ambulance or Coastguard helicopters enabling all interested parties to have visibility on the current status of a rescue and update the others as necessary.

Once we have sufficient details to set a meeting point, the controller will call out the team using the group texting functions in SARCall and give details on the casualties location, the meeting point and any special considerations.

Most members will head directly from their work, home or family day out to this location, while those living near Grassington will head to our base and then travel in the team’s marked vehicles.

We aim to get some members to our base and the first vehicle on its way within 5-10 minutes of receiving a call out though it can of course take longer if we don’t have sufficient information.

If the location is known, the first thing you will see are one or two members in red jackets heading up to the casualty where they will make an assessment, begin any medical treatment required and prepare to brief the team.

At this stage their equipment will be limited to what they have on them, the full medical kit and stretchers are carried on our vehicles.

As the team vehicles get close they will radio ahead to find out what is needed on scene and then send this up to the casualty once they have arrived at the meeting point.

With communications to the casualty site established the team leader in the vehicles will update the controller on what is happening on the ground so he can update the incident log on SARCall and liaise with the other emergency services to arrange any additional support required including the coastguard or air ambulance helicopters, a land ambulance or additional rescue teams.”