Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association column with David Dennis

The Wharfedale fell rescue team dealt with 42 call-outs last year as well as four stand downs. Picture by Sara Spillett
The Wharfedale fell rescue team dealt with 42 call-outs last year as well as four stand downs. Picture by Sara Spillett
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Last year was very much a rollercoaster time with a record month of call-outs and as such the expectancy of more to follow, then to end the year with no callouts for a seven week period.

Thankfully this included our fourth consecutive year without a Christmas Day call-out.

During 2016 the team dealt with 42 call-outs as well as four stand downs - 15 less than the previous year’s record of 57 - and required more than 1,300 hours. With ongoing training and maintenance work by the 70 volunteers, this amounted to a further 5,000 hours.

The team also assisted with two out-of-area rescues giving support to other teams.

Most of the local area call outs were in Nidderdale with 12 in total ranging from climbing falls and mountain bike accidents to lengthy searches for vulnerable people missing from their local communities.

July produced the record 10 call-outs with five coming in the same week.

These peaks can be hard to cope with, especially as many happened during the working week when members were at their employments earning a living.

Thankfully, we still managed to gather in a rescue team on each occasion but it did need some of our members seeking several periods away from work during the month.

Half of the rescues involved injuries which were mainly lower leg.

Five rescues were locating missing walkers, with a further five who had become ill.

Surprisingly, the team only had one caving incident during the year and further reductions were recorded with animal rescues, mountain bikers and the need to search for vulnerable people.

Age ranges showed the youngest as four and the oldest as 80.

The seven weeks of respite for the team could not have come at a better time as we were busy returning all our gear to our headquarters following its £300,000 major extension.

It was a huge decision going ahead with such an expensive extension but such is the demand on our services and the essential ongoing training we just had to go for it.

Needless to say we are all delighted with the new and increased facilities. Our annual running costs now stand at £45,000.

Our now annual Wharfedale Three Peaks Challenge saw its third event and it again broke records, giving us an income of £9,600.

The event is now well established with the next one taking part on the last Saturday of June.

The most pleasing statistic for the year is the further reduction in fatalities down to two. For a good number of years the team had to deal with an average of seven.

It is of course hard to draw any firm conclusions but we do feel the almost daily advance in technology we strive to acquire significantly speeds up our ability to respond by filling a call-out list literally within minutes, plus being able to use the latest technology to instantly inform our members out on the fells to respond to the latest up-to-date scenario.