How to get help

From the feedback I got after the wild runs post I realise a concern of many runners is what to do if it all goes wrong?  What happens if i get injured?  The hills are remote and the possibility of needing help is always there, but this is true even on a trail run through the woods.  Fortunately it is a rare occurrence, so be prepared and don’t let it get in the way of a good run.

Let’s imagine a scenario and look at how best to respond.

You are running with a small group of friends when you come across an injured person, or maybe one of your group slips, hurts their ankle and cannot stand up. The weather is cold and you need help.

First of all don’t panic; stay calm make sure everyone is safe and warm.  We already have one injured person, let’s not create another.  Find shelter where practically possible, hopefully you will be carrying a bivvy bag or a shelter. If possible insulate the injured person from the ground. Reassure them and make them comfortable, but not at your own expense, only you can help them so don’t become a casualty yourself.

If they are unable to walk you need help.  Who are you going to call? An ambulance or Mountain Rescue? It’s a question I’m often asked. The answer is surprisingly simple. If an ambulance crew cannot wheel a stretcher straight to you, then you need Mountain Rescue. Even if it’s only 200m from the road it will still take approximately 8 people to lift a stretcher over a locked gate/wall or over that small stream.  If in doubt, when you call 999, explain to them the terrain you are in. It’s even possible to ask to speak to someone from Mountain Rescue to seek advice but this is best done early so as not to delay getting help.

To call MR dial 999/112(either will do) and ask for Police, then Mountain Rescue.

But where are you? They need to know your exact location. A grid reference is the best way.  If you don’t have a map or don’t know how to give a grid reference then most GPS watches have a location button but make sure you know where it is and it is set to OS grid.  Another simple way is the OS locate App, it’s free and gives you a precise location.

Then they’ll need to know what’s happened, the number of people in the group, telephone numbers of other phones in the group (your battery may go flat or lose signal) and what kit you have. They may ask other questions like local weather for a helicopter or if there are any nearby features to help identify your location.

If you have a poor signal or low battery, did you know you can text for help? Register your phone before you set out for the SMS emergency text service then all you need to do is text the above info.

Text register to 999 and follow the instructions before going out.

If no one has a signal then you must make the decision as to whether you go for help. If possible write the details down on your phone or map. Ultimately if all you can do is get help then you have done well.  The rescue team will take at least an hour to get to you, but call the Ambulance first and that could soon grow to 3 hours by the time they find you and realise you needed specialist help.

When I am out teaching hill skills, I will ask the students at some point to explain what would they do, right there, if someone was injured and unable to move?  It is a question to ask yourself next time you are out for a run. Would you be able to respond?

If you have any questions about Mountain Rescue, hill running or would like to suggest a topic for one of my next blogs please get in touch.  I would love to hear from you.

Ian Winterburn –

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