Review of Rescues in 2017 & Over the Past 14 Years

2017 was a record year for the team with 140 ‘999’ calls received of which 101 led to some response on the fell. This review considers the 2017 statistics, both for the year as a whole and in the wider context of the past 14 years. In total 1499 incidents are included in the analysis. The presentation of data and definitions used is the same as that used in previous reviews published on the team website. These are repeated at the end of this article.

The graph above shows that since 2007 the team have regularly been dealing with over 100 incidents a year, peaking in 2017 with 140 incidents. Also apparent is that the increase in 2017 was largely in full callouts requiring the whole team to attend. The apparent year on year growth in callout numbers since 2003 is discussed later in this note.

Types of Incident

The PIE chart overleaf shows a breakdown of the 2017 incidents by type. The most common reason for a ‘999 call’ to the team in 2017 was for injuries or medical problems, very closely followed by people lost, both around 34 % of the calls received. As shown in the next figure, the proportion of losts has stayed fairly constant and the increase in 2017 was driven by injuries and medical issues. The number of overdues increased slightly. The Cragfasts and ‘Other’ decreased compared with previous years.

Callouts by Month & Time of Day

The plots below show the breakdown of calls by month of the year for 2017 and for the past 14 years as a whole.

The breakdown of calls by time of day is shown below, both for 2017 and the past 14 years as a whole. The x-axis is the highest value of each data ‘bin’, ie : 13:00 is all times from 12:01 – 13:00 and so on.


As noted earlier, 2017 was a record year for the team with 140 incidents, 101 of which led to a response on the fell which represents a fair increase in fell responses, compared with talk offs and other less onerous incidents. Looking back at the year a number of things stand out. February was unusually busy, at least 3 of the incidents all occurring on the same (horrible) day and also featured people out early on charity fund raising events. In contrast June was relatively quiet by recent standards. The team continues to respond to incidents related to the 3 Peaks Challenge but this has been less of a factor in the last couple of years than used to be the case. July and August then featured a succession of lower leg injuries. Whilst it might be tempting to put this down to choice of footwear most of those unfortunate enough to be injured were just unlucky. The wet early autumn then led to a rush of lost people in September and October, usually on Saturdays. October is now clearly the second busiest month for Lost people, often due to those without torches as the nights close in.

Over the years a consistent picture has emerged in terms of when particular types of incident occur. Most injuries / medical problems occur between 14:00 – 18:00 and 63 % of these incidents have occurred between 13:00 – 18:00. The Losts generally phone in between 15:00 – 21:00 (62 %), whilst Overdues tend to be reported later, between 18:00 – 00:00 (57 %).

Given the increase in callout numbers over recent years it is tempting to see whether there is any underlying rate. The graph below shows the number of callouts from 2003 – 2017. A plausible straight line with a gradient of just under 5 provides a reasonable description. Put another way, there is some evidence that the underlying rate of increase in callouts is around 5 per year.

It would be wrong to conclude that year on year the numbers will get bigger and there is clearly some scatter around the central trend but there does appear to be some evidence that there are one or more factors steadily pushing the number of incidents higher.

In summary, a record year in terms of callouts but no clear explanations, except for a possible indication the ‘peak season’ is getting longer.

Previous Review Articles

Definitions Used in this Article

Full Callout
All available team members are asked to turnout
Limited Callout
The callout message makes it clear only a small number, 5 – 6 people are needed to resolve the incident
The team are paged by the calling authority. The team leader and potentially others make enquiries by phone, car parks/pubs may be checked, but there is no response on the fell.
Injured & Medical
The main reason for the call is an injury or medical problem.
Someone on the fell reports them / party, usually by mobile phone to be lost and in need of assistance getting off the fell. It is different from cragfast in that it is navigation which is the challenge.
Person / party is stuck and cannot make further progress due to the difficulty of the ground, eg : it is steep and craggy. In this case they may know where they are but cannot move. It also includes people stuck on the Wasdale Screes.
Includes non-mountain incidents such as cars stuck on Hardknott Pass, flooding, urban searches etc. Also includes false alarms with good intent.

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