Review of Callouts 2009 – 2011

This note presents a review of Wasdale MRT callouts starting in November 2008 and working through to the present day (October 2011). In particular it reviews the types of incidents responded to, the time of day and the time of year to investigate whether any patterns emerge.

Analysis

All the incidents listed on the Wasdale MR website have been analysed, both callouts and alerts (using the data on the website). The incidents have been categorised as follows.

Injury / Medical
A callout to someone who is either injured or otherwise requires medical attention. This includes a wide spectrum from a simple ‘bang on the knee��� to significant tumble falls.
Lost
Someone on the mountains contacts us, usually by mobile phone to report that they are lost / cannot make further progress as they are uncertain where to go next. This is due to navigational challenge rather than being physically unable to make progress, which is covered below under cragfast. It includes people who were talked off as well as those where a response was mounted on the fell.
Overdue
Someone who is not on the mountain contacts us about someone else they know who went for a walk / climb and has yet to return or contact them to say they are safe and off the hills. This category includes all incidents of this type including those who do later turn up safe and well or where a response was mounted.
Cragfast
An incident where someone cannot make further progress due to the steep or uneven nature of the ground they are on, for example, stuck on a crag. In this category the person who is stuck generally knows where they are but feels they cannot make further progress and is distinct from some of those categorised as lost where the person was uncertain which direction to head in. Note it includes people stuck on the Wasdale Screes in the boulder field.
Other
This covers other miscellaneous incidents, often not connected with the mountains, such as responses to road traffic incidents (often in snow / ice), resilience type work, eg : Cockermouth floods, searches in an urban environment and assistance to the ambulance service away from the mountains.

Note that false alarms, eg : reports of flashing lights, shouts for help that later turn out to be well intentioned but not indicative of a mountain incident have been ignored. This accounts for a further 6 incidents.

For each incident class the date and time is recorded.

Results

The analysis below covers a total of 298 incidents. Figure 1 shows the breakdown of these incidents according to the categories defined above.

Figure 1 : Summary of Wasdale Callouts

Figure 1 : Summary of Wasdale Callouts

Figure 1 shows that just over 1/3 of Wasdale incidents require medical input. Over 50 % are related to lost and overdue. Cragfast and other are a relatively small proportion. Due to the small size of these 2 categories they are not considered further.

Figure 2 shows a breakdown by month. This shows that the winter months, November through to February are relatively quiet. There is an upturn in incidents in April that persists through to the middle of the \autumn, September / October. Injuries / Medical are spread relatively evenly over this period but there are peaks in May and September.

There is an increase in reports of overdue in the summer months, particularly June. This may be indicative of a ‘3 peaks effect’ ? Lost also peaks in the summer months but with a small increase again in October, possibly due to effects of reduced daylight (and / or half term) ?

Figure 2 : Breakdown of Wasdale Callouts by Month

Figure 2 : Breakdown of Wasdale Callouts by Month

Figure 3 shows a breakdown of incidents by time of day. Note that the x-axis refers to the end of each data ‘bin’ therefore 06:00 refers to the time period from 05:01 – 06:00 and so on. Fortunately the time between 03:00 ����������� 05:00 in the morning is quiet.

Arguably there are 3 distinct time periods shown. Most injuries / medical occur in the afternoons with 65 % of these incidents between 13:00 – 18:00. Lost tends to peak later on with 50 % of these incidents occurring between 15:00 – 19:00. Overdue then peaks later on with 50 % reported between 19:00 – 23:00.

Figure 3 : Breakdown of Wasdale Incidents by Time of Day

Figure 3 : Breakdown of Wasdale Incidents by Time of Day

Discussion

Does this tell us anything useful ?

Navigational issues clearly represent the majority of the workload. All those categorised as lost can clearly be attributed to navigational problems. Most of the overdues are also the result of a navigational error and also some of the cragfasts. The distribution with time suggests it is navigation in descent or the onset of darkness that cause the greatest difficulties.

Sticking with descent, the timing of the injuries / medical also shows it is generally the coming off the mountain that causes the accidents. Whether this is the result of tiredness, the greater speed of descent or other factors cannot be determined from the information.

Perhaps ironically the greatest number of overdues are reported in June with the longest days and (sometimes) better weather. Clearly Wasdale is a busy place during June with Scafell Pike in particular experiencing 24 hour a day activity due to 3 peaks challenge events. There are very few reports of overdue in the winter, despite the short days and potential for poor weather.

Often what is interesting is the trend with time and it will be useful to review this again periodically to determine whether there is any drift in the types of incident responded to or their distribution around the day / year ?

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.wmrt.org.uk/review-of-callouts-2009-2011/