A WALKER got the shock of her life when she came across a corpse in a river.

Catherine Porter from Stanhope, County Durham, spotted what she believed was a man’s body in the nearby River Wear and began to run to get help when an air ambulance appeared overhead.

It was then she realised that it was a dummy which turned out to be part of a North East Air Ambulance training exercises for their Harazardous Area Response team (Hart).

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“My heart was racing," she said.

“I started to run to get help, but stopped when I heard the chatter of helicopter blades above, and the arrival of some Hart vehicles.”

A spokeswoman for Hart said: "We appreciate it must have been quite a shock to see what she thought was a dead body while out for a quiet, relaxing walk.

"It just goes to show how realistic these exercises are."

The team took part in a number of exercises across the North East during November, involving the serious business of emergency rescues from fast-flowing water.

Yannick Raimbault, NEAS's HartT and Resilience Manager, said: "This was a training event for new staff to qualify as Swift Water Rescue Technician.

“It was part of a week long course which took place in different locations, including Barnard Castle and Tees Barrage.

"Realistic and complex scenarios allow emergency workers to put their training into practice - working together just as they would do if the incident was real.

"As a result of these exercises, we will be more experienced and better prepared for any serious incidents involving swift-flowing water."