It has to be said that quite a few of the incidents which happen whilst walking can be avoided by some simple forward planning.
For instance, make sure you have more than enough food and water to last for the walk and don't attempt walks which are way too challenging for your level of experience.
Never, ever attempt any challenging walk involving mountains, hill or exposed moorland without having the correct map and a compass - and the knowledge of how to use them.
Before you go out next time on a walk, register your mobile phone with the new Emergency SMS service here. You can use this service to send a text to get help, but your mobile phone has to be registered first.
To get help
What the rescue services need to know:
- Your location and the weather - a grid reference if you have one or as much information as you can give about where you are and how you got there. Try to remember any landmarks or buildings on your journey to where you are.
- The nature of the predicament or casualty - if it's a casualty, try to describe what happened and the type of injury - for example, head injury, lower back pain etc…
- The number and age of people in the party - if you are alone, make sure you tell the emergency services. The age of people in your party is very important if they are especially young or old - even if they aren't the casualty.
- What colour clothing and equipment you and your party have - Are you and your party suitable clothed for the oncoming weather conditions and do you have anything the emergency services can advise you to use which will comfort the casualty until help arrives.
- Any medical conditions you know about. For example, is the casualty diabetic or suffers from any conditions which the Mountain Rescue teams need to bring additional medication for.
- The registration number of the vehicle(s) you travelled in and where it is parked.
At least one should remain with the casualty - preferably someone with the most medical knowledge.
Until help arrives
Do everything possible to keep yourselves warm and comfortable. Any casualties will get very cold quickly as they may not be able to move about. Insulate yourselves from the ground, as you lose a great deal of heat by sitting on the ground.
- Keep eating and drinking but remember you might be waiting for several hours for the Search & Rescue team to find you - so save some for later.
- Remain where you are unless instructed to move by the emergency services.
- Do not move any casualty unless instructed to by the emergency services. The only exception would be if the casualty starts to vomit or choke on blood - then you need to roll them carefully onto their side keeping the casualty's head, neck and back in line with each other. Sit or lie them on a rucksack or camping mat to stop heat loss.
- Keep talking, singing and telling jokes - anything to keep your spirits up.
Never use the mobile phone you used to call 999 or 112 except to call the emergency services again - they may need to get back in touch with you.
- Turn any other mobile phones off to save their battery life.
- Turn the vibrate function of all your mobile phones off, and turn down the brightness of their screens to further save battery life. Tell the police you are turning off your phone if you need to, and will put it back on in 10 minutes or at an agreed time.
When the Mountain Rescue team arrive, one person will identify themselves as the Team Leader. Update them on the situation and report anything that has happened since you last talked to the emergency services on the phone.
You can then relax and let the Mountain Rescue team take over and evacuate you and party as quickly as possible.
It is possible an UK Search and Rescue helicopter or air ambulance could arrive before a Mountain Rescue team on foot. If you see a helicopter approaching get someone to stand with their arms wide apart to alert them of your position. At night, don't shine a torch directly at the helicopter, but rather gently wave a mobile phone screen from side to side to attract the pilot's attention without blinding them.