The Edale Mountain Rescue Team - A Talk By Andy and Sue Cass. 12th November 2010


Reporter: Barry Lewis

Andy and Sue are long standing members of the Edale Mountain Rescue Team who, between them, have been involved in many different ways; Andy being an active member of the rescue teams whilst Sue supports the team administratively as well as having served as a trustee and a director. Thus they were able to provide both an enjoyable and informative evening talk on the many aspects of their participation and the work of the Team.

Organised rescue followed on from an incident at Ladlow Rocks in 1928 which resulted in an amputated leg. The injured party was carried off on a five bar gate and it was the rescue rather the original injury which necessitated the amputation! The committee formed to consider stretcher design went on to become The Mountain Rescue Council. However, it was only following the deaths of three scouts, who were participating in the Four Inns Walk in 1964, that the current form of structure for the Peak District came into being. At that time there were nineteen teams covering the whole of the Peak District; now there are seven teams. The Edale Team is based at the La Farge Cement works (the big, big chimney) near Hope where they have been able to build up an administrative and training centre.

The Edale Team is made up of fifty volunteers supported by two search dogs and four specially equipped vehicles.

Every aspect of the Team's work is carried out by volunteers who will have undergone an extensive training course over a two year period. Fifteen to twenty persons will start the aspirants training course but typically only about twenty percent will complete it, the principal reason for the high drop-out rate being the level of commitment required in both time and effort on a long-term basis. Typically the Team will deal with 110-115 rescues a year, although this year the Team has already undertaken 124 rescues, the last being for a Team member who had an accident.

When an incident is notified to them a text message will be sent out to all members asking those available to respond. Andy received one such message during the talk and subsequently a further message that the incident had been dealt with. Any activity in the hills can give rise to a call out: including walkers, climbers, hang-gliders and para-gliders, and even fishermen, but especially mountain bikers who, it seems, have more accidents necessitating a call out than any other group.

Typically, fifteen or more team members will attend an incident. Although the most serious cases will be evacuated by helicopter if available - do not have an accident when a member of the Royal Family or the Prime Minister is in the area as the helicopter will not be released! - this sort of number could well be required if following any medical attention the injured party has to be physically stretchered off over difficult terrain. On arrival at the scene the Team will check temperature, pulse and oxygenisation and that the airways are open. Andy took us through the contents of the huge rucksacks which the Team take to the scene, pointing out in particular the versatility of duct or tank tape for temporary repairs to clothes, equipment AND people, and the desirability of always carrying some rope, a bivvy bag and warm clothes, whatever the activity.

He and Sue also ran us through a typical rescue involving a fallen climber and referred to various real life incidents in which they had been involved. The most famous was the "Blue Peter" incident, of which I had not heard, when a father and son went for a short walk off the Snake Pass late on a winter's day. The cloud dropped suddenly so that they were completely lost. Soon it was a blizzard, and by the early morning the rescue team were wading in waist deep snow with little hope of recovering them alive. In fact they were alive and reasonably well, because, although not well equipped for the conditions, the young boy had recently watched a Blue Peter programme on which Eskimos had demonstrated survival techniques by digging snow holes and shelters and they had followed suit, fashioning a protective wall around themselves out of the snow. Both rescuers and rescued subsequently appeared on the show.

There is no government support for this form of rescue service, although obviously they work with and on referral from many government agencies as well as answering individual calls for help. The current annual budget for the Edale Team is £60,000, taking no account of individual's time. In addition team members probably spend £500/1000 on their own kit. The budget is met by donation from companies large and small, and the general public. Our Club has made a donation, by way of thanks to Andy and Sue for providing us with such an interesting evening and on the night members contributed generously. If you wish to donate to the Edale Team which covers your local walking area log on to www.edalemrt.co.uk and follow the links. AND if you need their services always remember to ask for Police and Mountain Rescue.