RESCUE workers had to help 'one of their own' when he plunged down a steep hill during a sledging accident.

Matthew Hailwood, 21, is more used to helping people as a member of Bolton Mountain Rescue Team.

But he was the one at the centre of a rescue operation while out sledging at Rivington Pike, near Belmont.

Fortunately his fellow crew members were on hand to give him treatment as the temperature plummeted to minus four degrees on Boxing Day.

He was airlifted to hospital and later released with severe bruising.

The 17-strong crew had taken advantage of the snow and spent Boxing Day tobogganing, using an old stretcher as a sledge.

But as they returned to their vehicle, Matthew went for one last ride and plunged over a vertical drop suffering a lower back injury.

The Bolton resident was given painkilling gas and the crew stretchered him lower down the hill to await the air ambulance.

Team leader Garry Rhodes said: "The team traditionally goes out into our operational area on Boxing Day afternoon.

"With 17 call out members and probationary members present, we decided to take advantage of the snow on the hills.

"With no calls on the team, we all met at the base of Rivington Pike and spent a fun afternoon sledging on the steep parts of Rivington Pike itself.

"One of our old basket stretchers made an excellent sledge, with the public begging us to have a go on it.

"All 17 members present survived the sledging unscathed including our team leader on his plastic 'Turbo Sledge.'

"On the descent back from Rivington Pike to our four team vehicles, Matthew couldn't resist one last sledge ride down.

"Unfortunately he also couldn't miss the vertical drop in front of him and he very quickly became our fifth sledging incident since Saturday December 18."

Matthew, who lives in Bolton, was X-rayed and examined and released that evening.

Garry Rhodes thanked the ambulance crew for helping with ‘one of our own’.

He said: “We knew the pilot, because he was in mountain rescue with us.

“Thankfully Matthew is all right, but he was in considerable pain and we thought it was more serious.

“It was just an accident - we had been so busy with all the jobs we thought we would have a day sledging.

“Sledging is dangerous, but it is also good fun.”

Bolton Mountain Rescue Team covers the moors between Rivington and Ramsbottom, around Blackburn and Darwen, and also helps the police with missing person searches.