Many people visiting the Yorkshire Dales don’t know how to get help if there is an accident or if someone is missing or overdue. That’s the claim of the three volunteer search and rescue teams which provide a safety net for walkers, cavers, climbers, casual visitors and others who venture out into the local countyside. So the teams – Cave Rescue Organisation, Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association and Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team are taking the initiative with a major campaign to help people get it right if they need help away from a metalled road. The campaign is being given practical and financial support by the North Yorkshire Police and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. “Seasoned outdoors people know that when you ring 999 for a rescue team, you should ask for ‘Police’, then ask them for mountain or cave rescue.” said Rae Lonsdale, a CRO duty controller, who has been working on the initiative. “Often, in that fraught time immediately after an accident, less experienced people can ask for an ambulance, without thinking – and sometimes without telling the ambulance service dispatcher about the remoteness or inaccessibility of the site where help is needed. So, we’ve published advice on a card that folds to credit-card size and fits easily into a wallet or the first aid kit that every party should carry.”

Between them, the three teams aim to put posters and card dispensers into over 300 outlets around the area, where outdoor retailers, accommodation providers and attraction or information centre operators are prepared to help their local team to promote the campaign. “Essentially, the message is that if you need help, beyond the road network, you probably need a rescue team. In that case, call ‘999’ ask for ‘Police’ and ask them for ‘mountain rescue’ or ‘cave rescue’ – the effect is the same. If using a mobile, it is helpful to say which county you are in, as 999 operators may not have an intimate knowledge of rural England and calls from high points may go some miles to reach a phone mast. If you have a map, it is important to give both grid reference and a verbal description of where you are, as numbers alone may easily be mis-heard. After that, answer any other questions and stay by the phone and where you have a signal and keep the line clear so you can be called back”

Chris Booth, UWFRA Controller said “The campaign has been given a great welcome by supportive retailers and a good example is an outdoor shop in Grassington which puts a card in with every purchase. However, this is just the first phase of the campaign. As well as search and rescue, above and below ground, all three teams have safety education included in their charitable purposes. The amount of information that will fit on the card is of course limited, so the next step will be to provide links from each team’s web-site to additional sites for sources of safety advice or providers of outdoor training.”

The Assistant Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Sue Cross remarking on the campaign “This really is an excellent initiative and we are most pleased to join the Yorkshire Dales National Parks Authority and the Dales Business Community in giving it our practical support. Along with our partners in the other emergency services, we greatly appreciate the support of all the five volunteer Search and Rescue teams in North Yorkshire. In particular, I would like to thank the three teams involved in this campaign. All the teams do a fantastic job, they are always there when we need them, often turning out in the most dreadful of conditions and always providing a highly professional support service. The campaign will most certainly help to save lives and the combined support it is already receiving will ensure it becomes a permanent part of everyday life in the Dales. It is another example of working together in the interests of public safety”