Mountain Rescue Moel Famau (GW/NW-044)

NEWSAR (the team I am Deputy Team Leader of) went to the aid of a young male walker with a significant, but non life threatening leg injury.

Just a reminder that even the little hills can “bite”. He was well equipped and just unlucky to have a slip.

He couldn’t have been more lucky though as our team was just completing a training weekend in advanced first aid and so many of the best qualified team members were at base ready to deploy.

If you do come a cropper in the UK hills, even the small ones, remember to dial 999 or 112 and ask for Police, then Mountain Rescue (999 and 112 work exactly the same, there is absolutely no difference). If you ask for an Ambulance and you are even a short distance away from a public road then the Ambulance crew will do their best to get to you, but they are not equipped or clothed for hills and a two person crew can’t carry you off. This may then cause a delay while an appropriate resource is tasked, usually a Mountain or Lowland volunteer rescue team. An MR team will ask for all appropriate resources to be engaged in parallel and co-ordinate the rescue with their own team members and any other services appropriate.

To be fair, on this occassion the Welsh Ambulance Service did recognise very early on that they wouldn’t be able to complete the job, so we were called just over 15 minutes later. Still, it was 15 minutes delay that could have been avoided by asking for Police and Mountain Rescue.

We wish the casualty a speedy recovery.

Daily Post article and a little bit of video.


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What are your thoughts on carrying a PLB?
Many of my local GW/SW Hills have no phone signal and are not widely traversed. On some of the remoter ones I’ve never seen anyone at all.
As I sail and canoe alone, it would be a device which could be used taken elsewhere.
It seems like it could be a good investment for £200. I’d just be worried that their general usage may cause more headaches for MR teams with the “ease” of just pushing a button rather than people being properly prepared and trying to get themselves out of trouble


I think PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons) are an excellent idea.

They are not cheap, so they are less likely to be carried by a casual or inexperienced walker. So those people who have them probably know what they are doing to a certain extent, so they are less likely to trigger one in anything less than a life threatening situation.

PLBs and Spot Messengers are now being carried in large numbers in the UK. There have been several activations in the last 12 months, all of which were genuine (apart from one that heard about. It was a stolen device that was set off by the thief in an urban area, who I am guessing got a big surprise when the Police turned up!). There is one very big disadvantage to most of these devices. The rescue teams have no idea what issue you have or how many people are involved. They just know someone (or a group) is in distress. The location data sent to the rescue teams is usually very accurate on modern beacons as it is GPS derived.

Some of the devices allow a text message to be sent, so they could convey details of the issue.

I carry a McMurdo FastFind. It’s small, light and the battery has a sealed storage life of 5 years. Other brands are available!

This web article discusses the various satellite beacon technologies.

The products are not what to look at, consider the technologies and what you want.

I went for a PLB as I wanted an emergency only device, which gave the highest chance of being picked up and no ongoing contract. If you want non-emergency tracking or messaging this is not for you.

EDIT: Please remember that it is much better to get a message out to the emergency services by phone, either voice or SMS. In fringe coverage areas SMS will often get through when a voice call will not.

If you wish to send an SMS to 999 you need to register your phone first. Details below. You do not need to be deaf to use this service even though it is supported by the RNID.


Thanks Gerald.
The Fast Find is what I’ve been mulling over.
I’ve been looking at the SPOT for several years now, thinking that it offers added benefit for non critical emergency use.
I’m coming round to the idea of just spending the money on a PLB.
As I said, it will cover me for other solo activities, and at £200 for 5 to 6 years, it really works out quite cheaply for peace of mind. (much cheaper than a SPOT with service plan)

I was unaware you had to register. I thought it was available to everyone.
Now done - extremely useful piece of info and I recommend everyone registers.
I can often get a Text through when there is no voice coverage.




Happy to help.

Just one thing, although the service life of most PLBs is 5 years, the battery can be replaced. It is supposed to be done by the manufacturer. But you can get relatively low cost battery service kits to do it yourself. Obviously it is very important to reseal properly and carry out the usual monthly function tests.