At what point to you stop looking for patterns and start drawing conclusions? Or to put the question another way, if someone’s out of signal range for their mobile phone does that mean they are “stranded”?
There was much news last weekend about overwhelmed emergency services in the Lake District scouring the mountain-sides in atrocious weather for 1700 fell runners lost on the moors. And commentators took it a step further and seethed with outrage that they organisers went ahead with the event despite advice from the police not to.
One of my bug-bears is organised events getting a free ride from the emergency services, so this was just the sort of story I notice. Confirmation bias did the rest and by mid-day Sunday I was steaming at the selfishness of the organisers and the folly of the entrants. I wanted to know if the event’s organisers or its insurers would pay the costs of the call-out. So I went to the OMM website and from there to the discussion boards and asked – very politely – about it.
I was enchanted and fully won over by what I found on their discussion boards. The people posting had clearly had a great time because of the atrocious conditions. They reminded me of great big wet dogs who have just had the most enormous fun getting really cold and really muddy and who have no idea why you might not want them bouncing around inside your car.
Aside from that, they clearly know what they are doing – a fair number of them were members of the Mountain Rescue teams doing what they love best, and scores of them were members of the armed forces. The rules required that they should be equipped with food, a tent and appropriate clothing and entrants who weren’t properly equipped were not allowed to start.
Something else that came through again and again was that they took individual responsibility for their actions despite the fact they were entering an organised event.
Regarding the funding, I’ll quote the relevant post that I found by lurking their boards:
Police- Came to block honister pass and borrowdale road, to the general public, because they were flooded then decided to get unnecessarily involved in assisting with the OMM. They actually thought that because people were camping out for the night that they were missing, which they weren’t. They were just being safe and not trying to get off the hills in the dark.
M[ountain] R[escue] – No cost there to taxpayer as they are entirely volunteers, many of whom were actually doing the race. A small number of injured people needed assistance. Only 0.004% went to hospital. Have a look at stats on those injured on Fun runs etc
Ambulance services- I think a couple of guys got transported to hospital, it wasn’t really a disaster zone.
RAF Heli- The CAA require the RAF to undertake a certain amount of training and they use Mountain Rescues as a training exercise. If there are not enough call outs they have to make up the hours with “dummy” rescues etc.
Salvation Army- say no more…..
Since then they have donated several thousand pounds to the Cumbrian Mountain Rescue.
So I left their boards convinced by their case and with considerably less respect for the BBC journalists. It was a salutory lesson in the dangers of making assumptions, jumping to conclusions and accepting at face value the analysis of the first person you speak to.
Which is are lessons in “how not to do it” that every BA should learn.