When an accident has happened in the middle of nowhere is not the time to start thinking about this! The right time is before you even leave home when all is calm and peaceful and before you start climbing in Dorset. Then you can think clearly and set up an emergency plan. Print your plan in an easy to read format. Just prompts will help you avoid forgetting anything important. Have it with you where it’s easily accessible. This is one of the topics that will be covered in your Dorset climbing course.
Your plan kicks in even before you set out. What information will you leave regarding your planned expedition? As much as possible but at the very least provide
- Number of people in your group
- Approximate ages, fitness levels
- Any potential medical issues; diabetes might be one for example
- Your planned route
- What time do you expect to be back?
- Your mobile phone number
- Any other information you think might be useful.
- With whom will you leave that information? Make sure it’s someone who will be available until you return and who knows to raise the alarm if you don’t get back by the expected time and have not made contact or been contacted.
Make the above your standard basic system whenever you venture forth, whether you are going mountaineering in Scotland or the Alps or sport climbing around Portland. Have as good an idea as you can where your mobile phone will work and where the signal will be poor on non-existent. Then, make sure you have it with you and that it is fully charged. It’s not much use sitting on a desk at base or with a flat battery!
In the Event of an Accident or Other Emergency: Don’t delay asking for help!
- Dial 999
- The 999 operator will be very direct and will ask you which emergency service you require.
- Ask for police who will then contact the local mountain rescue team
- If you’re on coastal cliffs or paths, ask for Coastguard, and you’ll be put through to them direct
- Provide the details needed i.e. location (Guide book/ Map/GPS), number of persons in the group, their names: A brief description of the problem.
- Have an old fashioned pen and paper to hand and make notes so you can’t forget what you’re told. You may be given a direct number for the mountain rescue HQ. Write it down!
If you send someone for help, whoever goes must take with them the following information.
- Your Precise location if known, otherwise as accurate a description as you can give and if possible, arrange a rendezvous point for one of you to meet the emergency services en route to your location.
- Description of the accident, i.e. what happened?
- The time of the accident
- Name of casualty and, most importantly, their age. This can make a big difference. Older people and the very young can deteriorate much more quickly than a person of average age after an accident, regardless of fitness. Give details of their next of kin if available
- The nature and severity of the injuries as far as you can judge e.g. conscious/unconscious, etc.
- What First Aid has been given already?
- Total number of people in the party, anyone medically trained?
- What emergency equipment you have available
- Outline of your action plans if any
- Information about best approach route.
- The mobile phone number on which you can be contacted. Make sure you know it or have a note of it! Coastguard and other services will quite often ring the first informant (if they’re in signal) en route and ask for more information if they need it, or offer advice.
The more information you can provide the better. It is worth noting that, even if you are not actually climbing, the rescue services are there for injured walkers and mountain bikers etc too: indeed anyone in trouble in the wilder places.
Finally do remember that the coast guard and mountain rescue teams are all volunteers. They and the RNLI and the Air Ambulances in the UK all rely on donations from all of us. They all do an amazing job. Donate before you need their assistance. You can still show your gratitude afterwards by donating again!