The recent Storm Desmond brought flooding to many areas covered by the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team (NNPMRT), who - as with almost all Mountain Rescue Teams in the UK with a water rescue capability - were on stand-by ready from Friday evening through until late Sunday for potential flooding emergencies. Many Mountain Rescue Teams were deployed, assisting with flooding in Cumbria and the Scottish Borders.
NNPMRT was called by the Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service early in the afternoon on Saturday 5 December 2015 to assist with the evacuation of a family from a farm house upstream of Warden near Hexham. The family of four, including 8 and 10 year old children, were fully cut off by the rising river. By the time the Team had crossed the fields and descended a steep slope to the flood plain, the river had risen to a level too dangerous to wade across and a Swiftwater Rescue Team with a boat was requested from Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service.
The Team transported all of the Hexham’s Swiftwater Rescue Team’s equipment across the very wet and slippery fields to the water access point, including a boat and outboard motor. The family were then safely evacuated to ‘dry’ land and then escorted by Mountain Rescue Team members to a Land Rover Ambulance for onward transport to temporary accommodation. It was a fantastic demonstration of how two emergency services can work together to save lives.
Just as the last two Mountain Rescue Team members left the water access and egress point, a tree collapsed – it was a very close shave for all concerned.
The Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team has invested over £10,000 to develop a water rescue capability following the Morpeth and Rothbury floods of 2008 and 2009, which proved its worth during the events of Storm Desmond. The Team needs to spend a further £8,000 on water related personal protective equipment in order to provide a round the clock water rescue capability, all of which must be raised from donations. To support this purchase of essential equipment, donations of any size would be much appreciated via www.justgiving.com/nnpmrt.
If any publications are interested in preparing a feature article on the Team to help us celebrate our 50th Anniversary, please contact either the Team Leader or Press Officer – details below – to discuss further. The Team has a number of professional taken stock photos should any be required.