A dog handler has recalled the dramatic moment a ‘semi conscious and hypothermic’ missing woman was discovered in dense woodland hours into a search.
John Coombs and his colleagues from the Edale Mountain Rescue Team had been combing thick woods and treacherous crags in the Rivelin Valley for hours, looking for the missing 54-year-old from Sheffield.
Darkness was falling and the search party was making plans to stop and continue the search tomorrow when the woman was spotted by John’s trusty collie dog, Flash.
Modest John and his team, who have since been thanked by police for their help in the rescue operation, said: “What really found her of course was having five dogs and 40 people out searching, local knowledge and a good search plan.
“But then the evacuation and casualty care was really difficult.
“I thought it showed all of teams at their best - excellent team work and all the training working together in a situation we had not come across before.
“I was pleased she was found and it was quite a surprise because she had been missing a while and we thought she might not be in the area we were searching.
“I might do 20 or 30 searches a year and we’ll be lucky to get one find, so we were really pleased.”
The woman was drifting in and out of consciousness and was beginning to develop hypothermia as night fell.
She had to be given first aid treatment by rescue team members before she could be carried by stretcher to the road for transport to hospital - a distance of about 1.5km on tough terrain.
John, who has volunteered as a rescuer for 25 years and lives in Clay Cross, Chesterfield, added: “It wasn’t so much the distance as the fact we were in a gorge area full of trees, but that’s what mountain rescue teams do.”
Police had become concerned for the woman’s safety after she was last seen at her workplace the previous morning.
Her car was later found at Rivelin Dam.
Edale Mountain Rescue Team was called in to help with the search - as were dog handlers from the Search and Rescue Dog Association, and Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team.
The woman - who had gone missing on Wednesday, July 31 - is now said to be making a good recovery at home.
But she is said to have ‘little recollection’ of the events surrounding her disappearance.
Police thanked everybody involved in the search.