A few thoughts about the accident in the Lakes where a member of the Patterdale MRT was badly injured.

I was phoned a few days ago by several of the media for my input on the awful accident in the lakes where one of the rescuers fell on a rescue and was badly injured. As the papers say sadly his injuries are life changing. This will be an awful time for his family and friends. It is even worse with the Covid regulations and the travel to mountain area being severely restricted. I did not comment and join the debate this was unusual for me and left it to others to. Sadly in amongst the comments you get the usual awful statements from the “key board warriors” many with little knowledge.

My heart goes out to the Patterdale team the family of the injured rescuer. It is a teams worse nightmare for all involved. As a RAF Mountain Rescue Team leader I was always worried of this happening to me and my team. Mountain Rescue is and can be very dangerous I know that only to well. My best results after 40 years involvement in some of the wildest conditions was that all came home safely.

This was always a huge worry we had slips and fall and one time a team member carrying a split stretcher on a rescue was picked up by a huge gust on to his back in winter. The stretcher then acted like a sledge and he hurtled down the slope. He was battered but okay I watched it and could do nothing to help. There were many other times when we were out on weather that few would venture. Someone I feel was watching us?

Yet during that same period we lost Two civilian MRT team leaders Harry Lawrie of the Killin team leader was involved in a helicopter crash on a rescue on Ben More and was killed. In the same incident my good pal Ian Ramsay was also badly injured along with the RAF Winch-man Mick Anderson that awful night. They both had life changing injuries. Next morning at first light we recovered the casualty who they were looking for she was also killed. I was amazed that the whole Killin Mountain Rescue Team joined us next morning for that search high on Ben More.

A few years later on Seanna Braigh the Assynt Team leader Phil Jones was killed on a training exercise by an avalanche. During my time in the RAF Rescue I was the Mountain Rescue expert on a Board of Enquiry for a team member who fell on a training exercise in the Mamores. We learned some lessons from that event.

Sadly accidents happen these are hard times for all. I have not been near a big mountain since Covid started it’s a big loss to me and many others. Yet those who live near the hills can still get their “highs”on the mountains and wild places. Most are taking great care and being sensible as always.

This was from the BBC news after the accident when a Rescue member of the Paterdale Team in the Lakes fell on a rescue.

The rescue volunteer was airlifted to the Royal Preston Hospital. The camper was taken to Carlisle Infirmary with chest pains but was later discharged.

Cumbria Police said the £200 fines issued to the men who had travelled to the area was the “only legal penalty available” in the circumstances.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Slattery said the visitors had breached Covid rules by travelling together in the same vehicle and camping on the fells.

“I’m sure they are extremely remorseful for their actions,” he added.

“Set Covid aside, anybody who ventures up in the fells can have an accident and anybody who has accident can’t foresee what was likely happen to the mountain rescue. 

“That doesn’t lessen the anger and the frustration that people feel about this but they had no way of knowing that would happen.

“The county is still under an enormous amount of strain and we are asking people not to take unnecessary risks, to stay low level if they can, stay local when they are exercising. 

“This isn’t the time to be taking risks.”

BBC news “

It’s a very sad event and we are all thinking of the injured Rescuer and his family. There is a fund set up to him and his family.


Never take any of the Rescue Agencies for granted. As a wife of a long serving Rescuer and Team Leader of of one of our biggest teams once told me. “She never slept till he and the team was back of the hill from a Rescue”’ Few realise that the families bear the brunt of any accident and worry for us all the time.

Stay safe out there and think at time’s that if we have an accident coming to help are mainly unpaid volunteers who do this to help those in trouble.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A few thoughts about the accident in the Lakes where a member of the Patterdale MRT was badly injured.

  1. Gordon Scott says:

    It’s correct that the campers should have been fined for breaching covid regulations but no more than if they had travelled to a theme park. I hope the anger directed at them is not because they got into difficulties on the hill. As you say accidents can happen to anyone.
    I was a member of the Killin MRT on the night of the helocopter crash and I doubt any one of us thought twice about turning out the following morning as long as there was a casualty still on the hill. I remember the media looking for statements that day but I have never heard a team member criticise a casualty.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim higgins says:

    A shortie of my one and only experience of a mountain rescue. Enjoy.

    Jeebsy and Andy sat on the new summer seats at Stewarton cross contemplating going to the police station to get the keys for the box that held the big draughts pieces and the poles. They both sat staring at the chequered squares of paving slabs each waiting for the other to say something profound.
    “Andy”, Jeebsy said, “can I just say a couple of words here”.
    “carry on”, was Andy’s reply
    “A couple of words here”, Said Jeebsy with a seriously stern expression on his face.
    “Aye right”, was the disgruntled response from his pal as he fidgeted on the bench to get a more comfortable position.
    “We could get big Neil tae get his Faithers motor and run us up tae Loudoun Hill”, said Andy. “Get a wee bit mair rock climbing in before the holidays are over”.
    “d’ye think his faither would gie us his motor for that”, Jeebsy enquired. He wasn’t so sure the motor car would be loaned to two who by the cut of their clothes expressed such defiance to authority.
    “Aye his da’ is awright wi him takin the motor”, was the answer.
    “Aye but no’ If he knows that we are getting’ in it,” said Jeebsy
    Just at that wee Mackie came round the corner from the cellars off license with a litre bottle of Merrydown cider. “Ditch that cider wee man Andy ordered, we are goin’ tae loudoun hill in big Hunters caur”.
    Mackie was a punk rocker. A punk rocker that happened to be a prospectively brilliant rock climber and had accompanied Jim and Andy on a couple of bouldering trips to Neilston quarry.
    Big Neil parked the car by the Drumclog sand quarry entrance and the four made their way to the east neck face of the hill, just below the pulpit arête. The route to be attempted was a wee V diff called greenhouse gully, so called because it was a natural drainpipe for the water leakage from Loudoun Hill summit and hosted no small amount of fauna. Jeebsy roped up and lead the single pitch to fix a belay on the edge of the crag. Neil by his own admission, was rather too big in stature for efficient rock climbing and therefore took a route up by a path around the back of the arête to take a seat on a flat boulder waiting for Jeebsy to climb to the top.
    “On belay”, came the command from the top “climb when you’re ready”.
    “climbing”, came the reply as Andy began his ascent. Neil watched in muted interest as Mackie made his way running from the top of the footpath along the edge of the crags. This climbing lark was not Neil’s scene as he was not the most athletic of people but he thought it would be a good idea to take his buddies out for the evening to watch them climb. Big Neil was in no way prepared for what drama was about to unfold as wee Mackie flitted like a fairy along the edge of the crags to join the two at the top.
    The East Ayrshire air was suspended in animation as Mackie crouched to catch a glimpse of Andy making the last push for the top. He made no sound as the soles of his pound stretchers baseball boots silently skidded on the dry rock. The thud of his bum cheeks gave Jeebsy and Neil a delayed realisation that he was now flying gracefully through the air, the only sound he made was the fluttering of his Denis the Menace jumper in his slipstream. The thud that Mackie made as he hit the rough terraced grass below the crags was crushing to the nerves as it reverberated around the deep valley below the hill.
    As he finally came to rest there was a pause as Jeebsy turned around to look at big Neil. Neil only pouted his lips and shrugged his shoulder as if to say don’t ask me. Jeebsy and Neil sat as if waiting for some kind of higher power to tell them that what they had seen hadn’t really happened until the voice of Andy bellowed out in what seemed like an eternity. “Jeebsy, Mackie just fell” The shout came from Andy in the hope that he had somehow been imagining Mackie shooting past him in a vain attempt at free flight.
    “A Know that,” said Jeebsy in the hope that they were somehow in some kind of parallel universe and that Mackie would stand up and say got yez there eh and then it would all suddenly rewind to Mackie sitting on the top with them.
    Neil ran with all the grace that his large frame could muster dancing like a (very large) elf over the loose scree and boulders before taking the car to make a 999 call from the nearby Loudoun Hill Inn. Mackie required stabilising on the steep hill side as Jeebsy reassured him that the big hole he felt in his pelvis was most likely the result of a very large bowel movement. Neil eventually returned about a half hour later stating that they were going to send a helicopter from HMS Gannet to lift Mackie from the hill.
    “Ya stupid big lump.” Andy’s voice had some degree of bombast as he roared out his displeasure at Neil’s inability to simply phone for an ambulance. “Whit the hell are ye doing phoning for a helicopter ya eejit, has nae body telt ye ye have tae pay for a helicopter. It’s twenty bloody thousand pound just tae get one o’ they things aff the ground.” Mackie was oblivious to Andy’s ranting as he kept looking for Jeebsy’s re assurance about the big hole in his pelvis.
    Before long there was a man, with the sleeves of his crisp white shirt rolled to his elbows, clambering toward them. He had a medical bag and introduced himself as a police surgeon. He was followed by two very overweight uniformed police officers who had the unique talent of swearing between every syllable, in time with their breathing that sounded more akin to a death rattle. “Can you loonies no stay in Glencoe where ye belong,” exclaimed the first big fat policeman to arrive.
    “Nasty,” said the surgeon, “Broken radial, broken scapula and Humorous, aye broken as well. Ooooh dislocated shoulder, ouch all down the left side. I’ll get on the blower to Gannet get the Sea King up.
    “whit aboot the big hole in my pelvis.” Said Mackie.
    “We’ll no’ need a helicopter” said Andy “Me and my pal Jeebsy here are members of the local mountain rescue team we are trained in rigging up a harness. We can lower him onto that track below us and he can walk tae the ambulance.” several (??????????) sifted through Jeebsy’s head as He unconsciously questioned when Stewarton ever had a mountain rescue team.
    “I am going to have to administer pain relief to this man,” said the surgeon preparing a syringe, “and he’ll be in no fit state to walk after this.” Andy’s protestations at the need for a helicopter continued as Mackie demanded that he shut the fuck up and let the man jag him.
    We were fortunate enough to get into the pre op room at Crosshouse A&E to see Mackie on a trolley with a grin from ear to ear. “Jeebsy, I am Right oot ma heed was his parting words as he was wheeled into theatre. From that day on the route on the east neck face of Loudon Hill known as greenhouse gully was renamed Ezras Dreep. The dangerous brothers went from strength to strength making the first ascent of the west wall of the old Corsehill Castle and Mackie never looked at a picture of a mountain again never mind climbed one.
    They have all taken a different commonplace expression life but the four will always be united in the dreadful night when Mackie went flying on Loudon hill. Maybe one day they will reunite for one last drink and enjoy the memories, who knows maybe even get out the climbing gear and try a route once again on the hill up bye Darvel. More than likely they will just relax on the couch with a nice whisky and a laptop and let their fingers do the climbing on the key board.

    Jim Higgins “27th January 2019


  3. Andrew Downie says:

    I maybe wrong but I thought or was under the impression that Mountain Resuce volunteers were covered by Police insurance if they were called out by the police for a resuce . I will accept and apologise if I’m wrong but can anyone correct me .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Andrew Downie says:

    If they are not covered by this insurance in England \Wales\Northern Ireland could we not get a petition arranged to noitify Westminster about us urgent matter .


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