In the week when the RAF Search and Rescue Chivenor was mentioned in the news as potentially becoming daylight only, and the entire operation privatised, Abergavenny-based Longtown Mountain Rescue Team once again discovered the benefits of the Devon-based Sea King helicopter team.

Having worked jointly on exercise with the helicopter crew during the day on Sunday December 12, simulating casualty evacuation and team deployment across the Blorenge and Blaenavon area, things became very real for the team as later a call came in from an injured walker and six friends high on the Black Mountains above Llanthony Priory.

With failing light and a friend unable to walk, the group of students from London had little option but to wait for assistance as the team were quickly re-tasked.

The RAF Sea King, Rescue 169, also returned and demonstrated their flexibility in not only making a swift turnaround, arriving shortly after sunset, but also evacuating the casualties and team members who had come out onto the hill to help the walkers.

Team leader, Mark Nicholls, commented, "It shows you always have to be prepared, and demonstrates again just how vital the 24 hour cover provided by helicopter crews based at RMB Chivenor are.

Had we not had air support able to fly at night, we were faced with a carry off of several hours, down steep iced paths and difficult terrain. This would have put the injured walker and his friends at significantly greater risk, as well as our volunteer team members. The ability to rapidly evacuate casualties undoubtedly saves lives."