Rider Down! What to do if you need to call out Mountain Rescue….

This article explains why it’s often essential to call Mountain Rescue if a casualty needs to be recovered from a remote area….

You come sweeping round the bend and find your mate unconscious on the track – who are you going to call?

It seems a simple question, but if you haven’t thought about it before you head out you can easily get it wrong and sadly, if time is critical, that can be a very costly mistake.

If you are in an upland area, not on the tarmac and more than a very short easy walk from the road, call Mountain Rescue NOT the Ambulance service

Why do we say that? A normal road ambulance crew is two people, who will be exceptionally dedicated but are not ideally equipped to respond to incidents far away from the public highway. Their kit is brilliant for keeping you alive in a house or factory or at the side of the road but it’s very heavy. As I passed a sweating Paramedic with her huge patient monitor struggling up Win Hill not long ago, she ruefully acknowledged a smaller lighter one would get there quicker (there was one on my back in a medical rucksack together with oxygen and lots of pain relief).

If you have ever tried carrying anyone any distance you will also know it’s much more than a two-person job.


Dial 999 ask for POLICE and then ask for MOUNTAIN RESCUE and give your location, details of what has happened and how many people are hurt. A grid reference is ideal so carry a map and know how to use it, or download GB Grid Converter.

Firstly, the police won’t insist on an address or postcode (the first thing the Ambulance service will do) and understand Grid references. They will then pass the job to Mountain Rescue.

If you can’t read a map, then download an App. There are many on the market, but I use GB Grid Converter and its pretty good and doesn’t need you to have a mapping database – it just gives you a grid reference. It is also well worth taking a short map reading course and an emergency skills course – either one of the free ones run by Mountain Rescue or one of the many commercial providers. Ride Sheffield will be organising something shortly so stay tuned…

When notified, Mountain Rescue’s response will be greater in terms of resources: we will send two or three Land Rovers loaded with a number of personnel so we can drive off road if required. This means we will not only get to you quickly, but also treat and carry your mate out swiftly. We will also call either a road ambulance, an air ambulance (small, and fast but needs to land somewhere flat and not great in low light or bad weather) or a Search and Rescue helicopter (Big, red & white, flies in most weathers and has a winch so it doesn’t need to land.) It’s obviously better bragging rights to get a dramatic long winch out, but its ultimately better for your mate that we use the fastest method possible. So, we will call one of them depending on what is most appropriate to complete your mates journey to hospital…

The other option is you call the Ambulance service. You can talk them through what you think the postcode of Froggatt Edge is or, where you are on their version of Google maps. However, it isn’t fun if there is red stuff oozing out of your mate trying to guess what someone else thinks is the trail you are on. They will then send an ambulance. Unfortunately, the land ambulances don’t have Ordnance Survey maps, so will be working off their version of sat nav and when they get to the track can’t drive the ambulance along it. They then set out with their kit hoping to find you (or sensibly call out Mountain Rescue). This can add another 20minutes to an hour or longer in some cases to your mate receiving treatment.

If they do find you and can also get to you (Mountain bikers seem to like falling down steep banks…), then their stretcher is not designed for anything more than a few metres of easy ground so they will have to call out Mountain Rescue. See above…

So, whilst the Ambulance service is absolutely brilliant at what it does, if you are more than a short easy walk to the ambulance (the tracks in Lady Cannings are not a short easy walk to the ambulance) dial 999 ask for POLICE then MOUNTAIN RESCUE and let us organise the 2nd part of your transport to hospital.