Fell Rescue column with David Dennis

Members of the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association (Uwfra) during a recent practice session. Photograph taken by Uwfra team member Sara Spillett.

Members of the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association (Uwfra) during a recent practice session. Photograph taken by Uwfra team member Sara Spillett.

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Following our own record call-out month we heard that the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team had a staggering 43 call-outs in just one month.

We are in awe at how they managed to cover this record number of incidents.

Some Uwfra team members have had to negotiate time off with their employers to attend rescues.

Some Uwfra team members have had to negotiate time off with their employers to attend rescues.

All mountain rescue teams are volunteers with members trying to hold down full-time jobs and of course we have a life of our own just like everybody else with families, other responsibilities, holidays and so on.

Our four controllers know the effort getting together a call-out team, especially during the working week, determining and arranging the necessary equipment, calculating the search areas and routes to maximise a speedy and successful operation.

It takes a huge commitment to get things right and of course we have to get it right.

We know from our own recent experiences that some members had to negotiate time off from their employment more than once during the month.

It is a massive commitment being a mountain rescuer.

We pride ourselves that we have always managed to put together a team on every police request over our 68-year history.

Call-outs are very much on the increase across the country and we have had records broken eight times in the past nine years and this year could quite likely continue with this trend.

The Llanberis team is on a much bigger scale than most teams, having Snowdonia as its patch and as such it is the busiest team in the country averaging 180 rescues a year. It has seen call-outs increase some 400 per cent over the last 10 years.

This seems to be the trend across all teams.

It has stated that this new level of call-outs just isn’t sustainable and has said that a new effort has to be made by those managing mountain tourism and especially in Snowdonia to increase hillgoers’ education.

Its analysis of the 43 incidents , which needed in excess of 1,000 hours, revealed that many were preventable with the right knowledge and equipment. Thankfully, the Dales do not have mass visitors on this scale and looking at our own call-outs in recent months very few would come under the avoidable category – sheer bad luck would be more appropriate.

In our patch we are most fortunate to have the regional press and media as our champions and we are delighted that the Harrogate Advertiser series affords us with a monthly column to explain our work and give our recommendations on keeping safe in the Dales.

As far as we know we are the only mountain rescue team in the country to have its own newspaper column.

The national media picked up on the pressure our colleagues in the Llanberis team are experiencing and made comments on such issues as compulsory insurance and the urgent need for national advertising to educate people.

We, for our part, stay away from any political issues.

We all joined to help save lives in this area.

We don’t judge people, we just get on with the crisis they find themselves in.