Grounded: Air Ambulance helicopter stuck on Scafell Pike for two days

Fog and altitude increases the risk of icing, preventing the crew from taking off. Credit: Great North Air Ambulance Service

An Air Ambulance helicopter was stuck on England's highest mountain for two days as fog prevented the crew from taking off.

On Saturday, Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team requested help from the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) after a walker had fallen on Scafell Pike.

Due to the location and conditions at the time, it would have taken the mountain rescue volunteers around two hours to reach the injured person.

England's highest mountain is a hotspot for injured hikers and callouts for the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team. Credit: Chris March

Pilot Mik, paramedic Andy and doctor John flew from the service's base in Langwathby at 2:15pm, landing nearly twenty minutes later close to the casualty.

The walker had sustained a shoulder injury and was administered advanced pain relief.

In the time it had taken to care for the patient, weather conditions worsened with thick fog which, combined with the altitude, increases the risk of icing. This meant that the team were unable to take off.

Pilot Mik stayed in the aircraft overnight in the hopes that the fog would lift the following day. Meanwhile, the paramedic, doctor and walked down with the mountain rescue team with the walker on a stretcher. They were taken to hospital for further treatment.

A GNAAS spokesperson said: "Some of the locations our teams respond to are hostile environments where things can change quickly, so our team are always prepared for any scenario they may face.

"While this was a rare event (a similar situation happened 16 years ago in the Lake District), they were still well equipped to handle it effectively. On board our aircraft are emergency provisions for these exact circumstances, including food, water, and heat blankets to keep warm. There was regular contact with Mik to check on his wellbeing and make sure he was safe."

There was no break in the weather the following day so the pilot hiked down the mountain, leaving the aircraft where it sat.

On Monday, the fog lifted enough so that another GNAAS pilot was able to hike up Scafell Pike and fly the helicopter back to Langwathby.

While the helicopter was grounded, GNAAS' other aircraft along with the service's rapid response vehicles still attended twelve incidents across Cumbria and the North East.

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