IN a mock rescue at the weekend, volunteer lifesavers were scrambled to a remote dale after two planes crashed mid-air.

Search and rescue personnel scoured windswept Upper Teesdale, County Durham, to find the two pilots and a hiking party hit by debris from the falling aircraft, which collided over Cow Green Reservoir.

The hillside guardian angels, from teams across the North-East, located eight live casualties and a dead body which all had to be taken back to base for medical attention.

Rescuers had to winch one victim with a suspected spinal injury out of a steep gully on a stretcher while other casualties, found on the exposed Cronkley Fell, suffered minor cuts to series head injuries.

The event was a drill organised by the North East Search and Rescue Association to give teams the practice they will need in a genuine emergency.

Adam Hearn, of Teesdale and Weardale Search and Rescue Team, which hosted the 24-hour exercise, said: "It was a valuable exercise. The main aim was to get teams from different areas together to co-ordinate a large scale operation.

"It went well and was important practice for real rescues."

Teams from Weardale, Teesdale, Swaledale and Northumberland were joined by Durham Constabulary, Great North Air Ambulance, British Red Cross, Territorial Army and RAF Boulmer's emergency helicopter for the simulation.