KENDAL Mountain Rescue Team was called out 55 times during 2012 in what was the busiest year in its history.

The previous record was 52 incidents in 2004 with each of the intervening years seeing the team attend more than 40 call-outs.

But team leader Eddie Harrison said he wasn’t overly concerned at the rise, which he put down to a ‘significant broadening’ of the type of incidents it now deals with.

Over the past decade, volunteers have been involved in more swift water rescues and helping paramedics reach patients in bad weather.

“We are doing a lot more locally as opposed to hill stuff,” said Mr Harrison.

“We have always been to around 40 or 50 calls per year.

“Last year, we did dialysis work, getting people to hospital, and also social services, getting care workers out to the elderly last winter.

“We have helped the ambulance service who have had problems getting to a house and taken paramedics to homes, so there’s all the little extras that have mounted up that have probably made the slight difference.

“Many years ago, we wouldn’t even think about doing water rescues but with the amount of rain we’re getting there’s the possibility that we’re going to get involved in water rescues of some sort. We’re ready to help anybody.

“We are fortunate in that we (Kendal) don’t get the majority of hill incidents.

“We encourage people to go out and enjoy themselves but to go out with the right equipment, the right torch and the right knowledge.”

Mr Harrison added that he did not expect the number of call-outs to change significantly in 2013.

Kendal Mountain Rescue Team was founded in 1953 by a group of local enthusiasts who were spurred on by the deaths of 15 hillwalkers in incidents around Easter 1952.

Early conditions for the team were basic with no base, no vehicles and no kit, but with less than 10 call-outs per year.