Record callouts for Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association

Craven Herald: A rescue operation with the assistance of an RAF helicopter A rescue operation with the assistance of an RAF helicopter

For the second year running, Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association dealt with a record number of callouts.

In 2013, volunteers attended 44 incidents (up from the previous year record of 42) – and this was in addition to a further seven incidents where members were stood down before leaving their Grassington headquarters.

However, there was a significant reduction in the number of fatalities, which dropped to just two.

Averaging a rescue every eight days, the incidents involved a total of 1,915 man hours.

Surface controller Phill Nelson said many of the callouts were to walkers with lower leg injuries due to slippery conditions under foot, but mountain bikers and climbers also featured, with the rescue of one trapped climber on Ilkley Moor being filmed by a TV crew from Helicopter Heroes.

Mr Nelson added: “There was also a major rescue at the notorious Dow Cave system near Kettlewell where the team sent in 30 rescuers who took a combined 245 hours to rescue two cavers trapped underground.”

Searching for missing vulnerable people reached a record level of 14.

And the association received world wide exposure for rescuing a lurcher-Saluki dog, nicknamed Wufra, found near to death on Buckden Pike in October. The story reached more than 26 countries.

Mr Nelson said that as well as attending rescues, members devoted 5,000 manhours to training and looking after their team’s headquarters.

“New techniques as well as new situations mean that even the veterans of the team have to keep up to date,” said Mr Nelson, who is head gardener at Parcevall Hall, Appletreewick. “A new need in recent times is training to cope with fast water rescues and flooding situations.”

The growing demand for services has put a strain on finances and, to help boost its funds, the team is launching an annual sponsored walk, the Wharfedale Three Peaks Challenge, with the inaugural event due to take place in June.

“We are also actively seeking publicity opportunities to further educate the general public on the potential dangers of the countryside. Several years ago we produced a card, Calling for Help in the Yorkshire Dales, giving information not only on what to do in an emergency but some tips on how to avoid the situation in the first place. This is an ongoing campaign.”

Mr Nelson predicts that, in the future, demand for the team’s help will increase still further as more and more people venture into the Dales and members are called upon to deal with emergencies caused by climatic changes.

To donate to the team or for further information, visit uwfra.org.uk

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