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OS and Mountain Rescue England & Wales

28 Jun 2017

The partnership was made after MREW’s 2016 callout figures showed incidents to be up for the fourth year running, and a survey commissioned by OS also revealed 76% of British recreational walkers and hikers do not properly plan their route or what to pack in preparation of their walk/hike.

In 2016 MREW attended 1812 callouts, up 170 on the previous year. A total of 360 were serious or fatal. Mountain bike incidents also continued to rise in 2016, though not at the same rate as previous years. In all, there were only 14 days in 2016 without a mountain rescue callout in England and Wales.

Mike France, chairman of Mountain Rescue England & Wales, says: "Each week thousands of people head outdoors in Britain and enjoy their adventures without incident. We certainly don’t want to discourage people from doing this, but people need to make sure they have the right kit and have let someone know the route they’re taking if they are heading off the beaten path. This can save lives.

Almost 500 of the incidents MREW attended could possibly have been avoided believes Mike. He says: "We had people contacting us because they were lost, stuck, or suffered a minor slip, some said they were ‘simply unable to continue’. These types of incidents place a huge strain on our resources and volunteers, who in 2016 gave up over 80,000 hours of their time helping and rescuing others who have run into difficulties. It’s great to be partnering with Ordnance Survey’s GetOutside initiative and educating people on both the benefits and steps people should take to enjoying the outdoors."

OS’s in-depth survey of over 2000 adults from across Great Britain who enjoy recreational walking and hiking, highlighted the need for a more safety minded approach when venturing outdoors. 83% of those surveyed admitted that if they were in trouble on a mountain and had no phone signal they wouldn’t know what to do. It also revealed how more and more walkers and hikers, especially those from younger generations, are not carrying paper maps, compasses or whistles, and are relying entirely on the functionality of their mobile phones, even though only 28% of all respondents would think to check in advance the availability of a mobile phone signal in the place to where they are heading.

Nick Giles, Managing Director of Ordnance Survey Leisure, says: "Great Britain is a varied and beautiful country, offering something different each time you head out. Mountain Rescue do an awesome job in often difficult circumstances, and it is a job we should all be appreciative of. Their figures for last year and our survey findings demonstrate the ongoing importance of keeping safe and being prepared when heading outside. While you can never eradicate accidents, we can at least as individuals take more responsibility in the hope preventing incidents. Let’s see if together we can reduce the number of Mountain Rescue incidents in 2017."

Checklist for adventuring outdoors:

Plan ahead. Investigate the route thoroughly and take into account your experience and capabilities and the experience and capabilities of anyone joining. The 3D planning tool in the app OS Maps allows you to visualise routes in fine details from all angles. You can also print out the map to scale with the route overlaid.

Check weather conditions. Weather can change dramatically over the course of a walk, especially in hilly areas. Have a contingency plan in mind in case the walk needs to be cut short.

Practice your navigation skills. Make sure you are confident of interpreting a map and using a compass to navigate. Being able to give the emergency services an accurate grid reference for your location can save valuable time and lives.

Carry and wear the right kit. For the basics, warm and waterproof clothing (multiple thin layers are always better than one thick jumper), walking boots, a map, compass and navigation skills are essential, as are a decent supply of food and water. If you’re heading into the mountains or for longer walks, you really should be thinking about a survival bag, a torch (or head-torch), spare batteries, a whistle, spare clothes, hat and gloves, a first aid kit, spare food and even an ice axe and crampons (but know how to use them properly). We could go on – just make sure you have a good rucksack to carry everything in and that you’re comfortable carrying it.

Always have a back up. If you prefer to navigate with a GPS device, do carry a paper map and compass as back-up. The free app OS Locate will give you an accurate grid reference for your location and does not need a phone signal.

Let people know where you are. Letting someone know where you are going and when you are likely to return is a good idea. Make sure you notify them when you return and agree a timeframe when they should contact the emergency services if you don’t contact them. 

Paul Cook, from Wasdale Mountain Rescue team says: "The big area of growth has been in people phoning up on a mobile from Scafell Pike saying that they are lost and asking if we can help them. It’s vitally important that people who go into the mountains have the right map and compass, and that they know how to use them correctly."

Notes to editors

About Ordnance Survey
Britain’s mapping agency, Ordnance Survey makes the most up-to-date and accurate digital and paper maps of the country. Each day OS makes around 10,000 changes to its database of more than 500 million geographic features. Since 1791, OS content has been used to help governments, companies and individuals work more effectively both here and around the world. The information OS gathers helps keep the nation, economy and infrastructure moving.

Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey
Press Office

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