A RESCUE volunteer had to be airlifted to hospital after injuring himself during a search for a missing North Yorkshire woman.

The 39-year-old, from Newcastle, was flown to hospital with a back injury after he fell during a search operation on Saturday (February 10).

He was taken to the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, by the Great North Air Ambulance where his condition is said to be stable.

About 130 people were taking part in the search, including more than 70 from five different search and rescue teams.

It is now two weeks since retired teacher Barbara Colling, 68, from Helmsley, went missing. 

The 68-year-old, who suffers from dementia, was last seen walking near Helmsley on January 28, walking on the along the B1257 towards Stokesley.

Today (Sunday, February 10) those involved in the search said the mountain rescue volunteer’s injury illustrated some of the difficulties the operation faces.

Barry Warrington, from Cleveland Mountain Rescue, said: “I suppose it does highlight the difficulty of this kind of activity.

“We’re working in some quite difficult terrain and trying to do it so carefully and go over quite difficult areas. That’s what we do, that’s why we train.”

Six search and rescue teams affiliated with the North East Search and Rescue Association (NESRA) took part in the search over the weekend.

It included teams from Northumberland, North of Tyne, Cleveland, Swaledale, Teesdale & Weardale, Scarborough and Ryedale.

They have worked in tandem with North Yorkshire Police, which, in turn, has amassed a team of local volunteers to help comb the edge of the North York Moors near Helmsley and Rievaulx.

Mr Warrington said there were a number of obstacles to overcome with this particular search.

“All searches have their problems,” he said.

“Searching for people who have Alzheimer’s can be particularly problematic. Over the last ten to 15 years mountain rescue organisations have collected data on every single incident.

“All that data is corroborated and it gives us patterns of behaviour in missing people we can use in searches.

“But in someone with Alzheimer’s that behaviour can be unpredictable. Then add to that some difficult forest terrain and moorland terrain.

“It’s a very intensive search without a doubt.”

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