ADVENTUROUS members of a search and rescue group taking part in their own off-duty expedition to mountains in North Africa had to use their emergency training for real.
The six members of the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Group, Tavistock (DSRT) team were exploring the Atlas Mountains when they had to use their experience on the moor to help an unconscious casualty.
The casualty was another exhausted hiker in an unrelated group who they saw stumble nearby and fall into the snow.
The group of friends rushed to her aid and used a group shelter, they had recently been training to use in Devon, to save her life.
The rescue happened at 11,000 feet (the highest point in the range is about 12,000 ft) in temperatures as low as -20C. The group said that although the rescue was not a DSRT operation, it showed ‘we’re never off duty’.
The group had been attempting to climb to the top of Jebel Toubkal, in Morocco, the highest mountain in North Africa, in their own time, when they carried out their lifesaving deed.
Andy Hodges, DSRT group member, said: ‘With recent poor weather in the region, the ascent was more challenging than usual. High winds and colder temperatures than usual along with heavy snow fall (the same weather which caused a recent crisis in tomato supply back home!) meant the climb to the summit, at 4,167m, was even more challenging than expected.’
On summit day, the winds were strong, around 50kph, and gusting much stronger with temperatures well below freezing: ‘At one point, while we were snacking, we saw a woman walking between two others coming down the mountain, looking very tired indeed.
‘As she approached, she stumbled and fell, we rushed over to help and, instinctively, applied deep-rooted skills from rescuing people on Dartmoor.
‘We put her in a group shelter and rubbed energy gel into her gums and raised her feet. As she regained consciousness, hot drinks and solid food were offered. High altitude medication was provided and, before long, she was able to descend to the refuge with her guide.’