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RAF Mountain Rescue Teams assist in rescue of missing walker

RAF Mountain Rescue Teams have assisted in the rescue of a missing walker who set out to walk up Scafell Pike.

The Mountain Rescue team working at night

RAF Mountain Rescue Teams from RAF Leeming and RAF Valley were requested by Cumbria Police to assist Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team with the complex 16-hour rescue of an 18-year-old missing walker in difficult weather conditions on Saturday 2nd March.

The team walking in the snow

The RAF Mountain Rescue Teams split into two search parties and were tasked to search the two obvious descent routes from the summit of the Cumbrian mountain with heavy snow falling, high winds, and approximately two feet of snow.

The team working with ropes in the snow

At around 2am, five hours into the search, the missing walker was located at the bottom of Piers Gill - roughly 45 metres below. He was confused and semi submerged in the river.

Two team members at night in the snow

With the weather conditions improving and the likelihood of very serious injuries, a coastguard helicopter arrived on the scene at 4:20am and attempted to winch the casualty out of the gill.

Winching up

Unfortunately, they were unable to safely winch the casualty forcing the helicopter to return to the valley bottom to collect technical rescue equipment. The two RAF Mountain Rescue Team parties, combined with four Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team members, rigged a technical rescue system and lowered two medics into the gill.

Working in the snow

Working together they carried out an initial assessment of the casualty, who was submerged up to his torso and was in and out of consciousness. They quickly realised the casualty was in need of immediate evacuation - he had a suspected broken femur and was severely hypothermic.

Further imagery of the team at night

Once loaded into a stretcher, the remaining team members carried out a technical and difficult stretcher raise. With the casualty reaching the top of the gill at 7:30am.

Now able to safely winch the casualty, the coastguard helicopter returned and transferred them to hospital.

The RAF Mountain Rescue Service falls under 85 Expeditionary Logistics Wing with teams located at RAF Leeming, RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Valley.

Founded by Flight Lieutenant (later Squadron Leader) George Graham in 1943 and grown by volunteers since, each RAF Mountain Rescue Team is managed by permanent staff and part time volunteers from across all three Services.