One of the busiest Mountain Rescue Teams in England. 2018 our 54th year

Man dies on Helvellyn after suffering chest pains

Swirral Edge
Grid reference: NY 34210 15344
Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team’s busiest every year.

Every time Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team undertakes a rescue we publish a press release explaining the facts about what happened and how we responded.

However today wasn’t a typical day. Firstly, a man tragically died on Helvellyn. He was the sixth person to die on the mountain this year – all in unrelated incidents and with no common theme. Sadly, the 52-year-old man from Yorkshire suffered a suspected cardiac arrest. The team knows all too well how difficult this is for all concerned and the thoughts of all team members are with the the man’s family and friends.

The day started at about 0830 for the team. It was the team’s annual open day and team members were preparing the base. Tidying up, moving vehicles and trailers, and beginning to set out cakes for the pending visitors later in the day. We were aiming to welcome previous casualties and supporters and raise awareness of our need for new radios and additional funding.

At about 1030, just before the base was due to be opened to the public, the team received a pager message from Cumbria Police. A few minutes earlier the police had received a broken 999 call from a man reporting that his father-in-law was suffering from chest pains on Helvellyn.

At this point the preparation for the open day stopped. The team members who were sweeping up and preparing the base quickly began to pull on waterproof clothing and get their kit together to deploy to the mountain. Two Landrover Defender ambulances left base a few minutes later with ten rescuers on board and full medical kit.

The team leader explains: ‘When a 999 call is received we do everything we can to gather as much useful information as possible as the team deploys. Often the Police have done this really well for us but the 999 call dropped out initially. In this instance, all we knew was that the casualty was seriously ill and on Helvellyn and a few minutes later we heard that CPR was in process. We didn’t have an accurate location from the 999 call and so attempted to call the informant’s mobile phone. The nature of the mountain terrain means that this isn’t always possible and this was one of those instances. With the absence of hard facts, we left base with blue lights and sirens and headed as far as we could into the mountains.

‘At the time of the 999 call the Team requested two helicopters. One, the air ambulance, because of its rapid response and medical staff and the other, a Coastguard helicopter from Wales, because of its extended capability including the ability to winch.’

‘Whilst the team were on route we managed to ‘fix’ the 999 caller’s mobile phone which gave us an accurate location of the incident. This was high up Swirral Edge and in cloud.’

‘The team made their way on foot from Brown Cove climbing up onto Swirral Edge, arriving about an hour after the initial call. The air ambulance paramedic and doctor arrived a few minutes ahead of the team