” Just don’t let go! “
Buxton team members train for two hours every Thursday evening with a mixture of classroom and field topics. Additionally, sprinkled throughout the year are extra Sunday training sessions and last weekend was aimed at revising team’s crag rescue techniques.
Fortunately, most experienced climbers have the knowledge and rope skills to be able to self-rescue after a fall and can normally get themselves back on the rock-face without too much effort. Consequently call-outs to climbing accidents in the Peak District usually involve only those who have regrettably hit the floor. Whilst the climber can sustain serious, even fatal, injuries, the job of the rescue team is reasonably simply. A call-out to a person stranded on a rock face (or crag-fast as MR calls it) is a rare but very serious event. It’s an incident that requires a well practiced rescue procedure to minimise the risk to team members yet assist the casualty as quickly as possible.
Even using a correctly fitting sit harness, anyone unable to move and hanging on a rope for more than just a few minutes will soon start to suffer circulation difficulties. If the casualty is injured then the rescue problems multiply. Of course, the worst case scenario is the casualty trapped on a ledge without the security of a rope and who is simply hanging on by their fingers.
Whilst a speedy rescue is essential, before the team deals with any incident, a detailed assessment of the rescue risks is carried out first. Rope anchor point (belays) need to be identified and the best rescue method deployed. This Sunday’s training was all about the team’s most common approach to crag-fast casualties. Access and secure the stranded climber and then relieve the strain on his harness which may be compromising the blood supply. Finally lowering the stranded casualty safely to the ground. We call it “a nappy rescue” for several reasons I won’t go into.
Buxton Mountain Rescue Team welcomes new members. Joining is a big commitment but if you have sound navigational skills and a background of walking or climbing in the Peak District we would love to hear from you.
Photos credit: Keith Birkitt (team member). Teggs Nose Country Park, Sunday 14th April