Mountain rescue team celebrates 60 years of saving lives in the Peak District

They risk their lives to save others, they work in the rain, snow and hail and yet everything they do they do for free.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 27th April 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th April 2016, 11:04 am

Ready to respond at all times of the day and night, Edale Mountain Rescue Team members have been saving lives, rescuing casualties and leading people to safety for 60 years.

Yet the team relies on the commitment and dedication of its 60 volunteers - and the generosity of fundraisers who provide the money for equipment, vehicles and training to ensure lost walkers and injured mountain bikers and climbers get the help they need when the alarm is raised.

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Most years the team responds to around 120 call-outs but there were 138 in 2015 and with the weather now improving and hiking boots getting dusted off across the region, the volunteers are gearing up for a potentially busy period as people head out to the peaks this spring and summer - occasionally unprepared.

Many of the team’s call-outs are to accidents - mountain bikers crashing, climbers falling and walkers slipping.

But the team is also regularly called out to people lost on the moors or reported missing after failing to return at the time expected.

Team leader James Stubley, aged 35, from Dronfield, urged those planning a trip to the moors to plan for all eventualities.

“We encourage people to explore the hills and try different activities but to do so with safety in mind,” he added.

“Make sure someone knows where you are heading, make sure they know what time you are expected back and make sure you have all the proper equipment you may need - such as a map and a compass, and that you know how to use them. We also recommend a torch and whistle.

“People shouldn’t rely on GPS and their mobile phones because there are spots in the Peak District without any coverage.”

The team of volunteers who respond to call-outs around the clock is made up of men and women from the Hope Valley, western Sheffield and western Chesterfield.

Available to respond instantly to calls for help and living close to the Peak District are essential requirements, but a willingness and commitment to help others is what drives the team.

With 14 trained medics on the team, including six doctors, five paramedics and three nurses, its members are used to coping with life and death situations under pressure - and whether it’s in a hospital or on the moors, they spring into action to help those in need.

But every member of the team undergoes medical training as part of their 18-month induction, with all the volunteers capable of splinting fractured limbs, administering pain relief and lifesaving drugs.

Team leader James, who works as a Yorkshire Air Ambulance paramedic, said all team members have a love of the great outdoors.

“We all probably see the team as an insurance policy - we all love the outdoors ourselves and you never know when you may need assistance yourself, so to know the team is there is a reassurance,” he said.

He said team members are experienced walkers with an in-depth knowledge of the Peak District.

“To come into the team the key thing is to have a good level of hill craft and personal fitness,” he said.

“You need to be able to look after yourself out there on the hills, where the weather and conditions can change quickly, if you are expected to be able to rescue and lead people back to safety.

“When the alarm is raised you never know what incident you are going to be responding to but there are two main types - searching for a missing or vulnerable person or somebody lost out walking, or one involving an injury to somebody doing an activity they love such as walking, climbing, mountain biking or paragliding.

“But what remains constant is our professional response. Even though we are all volunteers we pride ourselves on our professionalism.

“In addition to the medical professionals in the team, we have teachers, a police officer, firefighters and self employed business people for example, with each one of us able to bring a bit of experience.

“We see ourselves as a community service and rely on the generosity and support of the Peak District communities we serve because of the minimal amount of national funding we sometimes receive.”

Over recent weeks the team has helped a 21-year-old climber who suffered head injuries after he fell at Higger Tor and a mountain biker who suffered spinal injuries after crashing above Fulwood Stile Farm, Edale.

Rescue team facts:

* Edale Mountain Rescue Team operates in the Peak District National Park and is one of the busiest in the UK.

* In 2010 team members had their busiest year with 140 call-outs.

* The team is made up of 60 volunteers.

* Hope Valley Cement Works doubles up as the mountain rescue team’s base.

* Once a week members spend time checking and maintaining all the team’s equipment to ensure it is in working order on call-outs.

* To find out more about the mountain rescue team, how to get involved with the charity and how to help with fundraising visit Edale Mountain Rescue Team