What a 24hrs that has just been. I set off yesterday on a training run following the route of the Trigger, the annual Marsden to Edale race.
In a moment of madness I decided to separate from my running partners to check out an alternative route through WildBoar Clough heading onto Bleaklow.
This was my downfall, literally.
With fading light and closing weather i continued to try to find the best route upwards. The terrain changed from boggy paths into a slippery rocky route. I continued on over several rickety styles following the stream,which I crossed over,due to the route being impassable with rocks and bracken. I pulled myself up the rocky incline using what is left of the wire fencing and made my way across to a rock outcrop to see where to go next. Big mistake. Laying upside down having slipped down the rock’s side, I instantly knew that my right leg has been damaged in the fall, it having taken most of the impact on landing. I suspected a tibial/ fibula fracture from the intensity of the pain.
What to do next? Head torch smashed, useless. Mobile phone,no signal and dying battery. Move through the pain and get some warm clothing on. I was not expected back for an hour so no alarms bells would be raised yet. I checked my leg the best I could and feeling nothing wet or warm thought at least it wasn’t an open fracture. Try to stand up. Sit back down very quickly.
Now lying the right way around it was surreal to watch the cars racing over Woodhead traveling home and planes stacking up ready to drop into Manchester airport. See them but not able to make contact with them. Hungry but also feeling queasy, frightened but in control. I wasn’t going anywhere. The next thought that came into my head was my location. WILDBOAR, not cute little pink piggy but WILDBOAR!! When did boars last roam WILD and was I going to meet one? In years to come was a butcher going to be making sausages and find my wedding ring?
Back to reality with a jolt. Was that my name somebody had just shouted? I could see torch light in the distance. Dog walkers naming their dog Jeff. Unusual but flattering. Get a grip man, must be the leg pain. “JEEFFF” again. Somebody is looking for me. More torch light. I shout back but into the wind. I can see movement in the opposite side of the stream but it is moving away from me, upwards. I shout again, louder. Then I here a voice carried on the wind, ” he is to our left.” Then the torches move away steadily upwards out of view. I shout again and again. Then the torch lights shine downwards towards my right, getting brighter, I shout and wave, my position is calculated and I am joined by two members of Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team.
Introductions made, I listened to what was happening. Casualty located, position on hill side passed. Other Mountain Rescue team members making their way across to us bringing vital kit. At the same time, what happened, injuries, examination, pain medication, assessment,warmth and welfare. This team is good.
Stabilised, what to do next? I was informed that due to my location, extraction would be difficult. Rope work, carry off. No helicopter due to weather conditions. And then the decision. Safer to stay where we were. An over night stay on the hill side with team members looking after me. Free of charge? I like a bargin. A long night though. Then helicoptered out at first light into the care of the Hospital staff. One pinned and plated leg and 8-10 weeks cast and all will be well.
What a story! True up to a point. The above was a training scenario to assist Woodhead Team members to hone their search and casualty skills. I was out on the hill side playing “broken leg” and the team found and cared for me in the way described. It was expected when the scene was set,that I would be carried off. The location and conditions under foot dictated otherwise. At this point the exercise in recovery finished. The equipment was accounted for and packed away. Then a bit of rope work to get everybody safely down the incline to the stream and then back to the RV point.
A debrief and a calorie top up of home made Xmas cake took place before dispersing back to HQ and home.
It is skill and judgement that rescuers develop and build upon on training days like these. The teams are available 24/7 365 days a week. All are voluntary members giving up their time to help others when needed in rural and urban areas. They receive no direct funding or grants. With costs upwards of £25000 a year to operate, please support your Mountain Rescue Team.
On this occasion it was Jeff and the Team 1. WildBoar Clough 0. It could be you or someone close to you next.