Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue team are one of the teams of volunteers that respond to 999 calls within the mountains of the Ogwen Valley – including North West Wales from Llandudno onwards.
Their website states the dangers of the mountains they respond to incidents in and try and keep safe:
The mountains that surround the valley are about 1000 metres high and the terrain varies quite considerably. With eleven of the Welsh 3000-feet peaks and cliffs that reach about 300-400 metres in height our area is very popular with both walkers and climbers.
They publish data on the website going back to 1961. I decided to map the data with injured and non-injured patients separated to see just how often the team give up their day-to-day life to go risking their safety for those in the dangerous and unpredictable weather of Snowdonia.
The chart below shows the dramatic increase in incidents over the past few years, which in turn takes up more man-hours and costing more in fuel for the vehicles and equipment used.
I am waiting for data for the past four years to show the injured and non-injured, but accurate data up to 2011 is available for call outs. Recent data has not yet been collated correctly so would be unfair to guesstimate from what’s available through the OVMRT.
Hover over each point or bar to see the data for this chart.
Below, this chart shows how many call outs there were and how many people were involved in it. The number tends to rise steadily with the number of call outs. Indeed, the average tends to be between 1 and 2 people per call out. The majority of cases will be just one person. Click interact to see the chart properly.
The different types of injuries sustained are interesting to see. As the years move on, more and more people are not actually injured, rather they are lost. This may be attributed to more people being on the mountains, or more people without a map or a lack of orientation skills. The total amount of incidents rising in recent years does point to an increase in people climbing these mountains not being prepared enough.
It could be attributed to a rise in people attempting to become fitter and healthier, and in the process it is natural that more call outs will be needed, as people have accidents. It can also be linked to the rise in mobile phone use, and the ease of which emergency services can be contacted. That in itself is a good thing – but used badly. The emergency services reaching stranded rescuers are volunteers in the vast majority of mountain rescue cases.
They may be reimbursed petrol money, but a recent report into the cost of the volunteers says they shelled out thousands of their own pounds on vehicle maintenance. If the RAF needs to be called out for search and rescue, thats a expensive.
If the RAF need to attempt a landing or winch rescue in the mountains, with unpredictable winds and low visibility, that is also challenging and dangerous. The injuries sustained by people, ordered by year (1961-2007) and also including one page for total injuries, is below.
And here, you can compare two years worth of data to see how it compares for that year.
All the data used for this does not outright suggest any of the reasons I have mentioned in the text. It is simply gleamed from the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue team website, and visualised here for you to see. I would be interested to know what you make of this.