Team sounds warning to lost ramblers
Strangely, when people get lost on the Peak District moors they always seem to do it in bad weather and darkness! So trying to find people who have huddled under a wall or boulder to seek shelter is a slow and laborious business.
Good walking books recommend carrying a torch and whistle all year round. They can be used to attract the attention of a searching group when an emergency occurs. However, those that have the sense to be prepared for such moments probably also have more sense than to get lost in the first place! So, nearly all the incidents where we are called to search the moors for lost or missing people in the dark, wet, early winter months usually involve poorly equipped individuals.
Searching for people on an open moor such as Kinder Scout can be a bit of a needle in a haystack situation. Search dogs and helicopters are major assets but the team foot-soldiers still have to cover a lot of ground in the old fashioned manner. If the missing party is not showing lights or sounding whistles it is very easy to walk close by and not locate them.
So, if we have trouble finding the target, we have to make easier for the target to find us! The basic principle the team adopts is for each search party to shine multiple torches and make plenty of noise to attract attention of the lost persons. Traditionally the team have not used whistles for fear of them being confused with a whistle from that rare subject, the well prepared but lost soul. Instead, team members usually revert to calling out names (christian names of the lost people that is, never anything rude of course!) but it only takes a mild breeze for the names to be lost on the wind, making shouting a waste of breath.
However, one team member (who wishes to remain annonymous for fear of being accused of blowing his own trumpet) has for years pioneered the use of a small fog-horn. The horn is designed for use on small boats in bad weather and is ideal for making loud noises in the middle of the night. So effective is the small brass instrument that other team members shy from joining him in the same search group for fear of their eardrums.
After years of banging the drum, or in this case blowing a horn, that lone member has finally convinced the team committee of the worthiness of the instrument. After searching (no pun intended) the internet a lighter, plastic alternative has been found and every team member will soon have one in their personal rescue kit. Our pioneering team member said, “Everyone knows it works, but embarrassment has prevented the idea catching on. Now everyone has something to blow and the only people who will see or hear it are the missing casualties and I doubt they will care two hoots!”
On a serious note, the horns will improve the ability of the team to locate missing people more efficiently. If walkers use lights and whistles and team members use horns there will be no confusion and everyone gets to go home a little bit earlier.
The purchase of the horns has been made possible by a kind donation from the family of Andy Fraser, a Buxton police detective and local rambler, who died earlier this year.