A CYCLIST sparked a three-hour emergency rescue operation last night (Wednesday), after suddenly falling ill whilst out on an expedition in Hexton woodlands with his friends.

Ambulance crews from Stevenage and Luton were called to the scene at Telegraph Hill off the B656 Hexton Road just before 9pm last night. An East of England Ambulance Service Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) and a search and rescue helicopter from Hampshire were later at the scene.

The man, who is believed to be in his thirties, was a couple of miles into dense woodland when paramedics arrived, and ambulance crews were having difficulties stabilising him and removing him safely.

“Due to the location of the patient and the rough terrain, our HART team were called in to assist the paramedics at the scene,” said ambulance spokesman Gary Sanderson.

“HART operatives and paramedics agreed that the best plan of action to get the man out of the wood safely was to call upon the assistance of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency based in Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire.

“They dispatched a search and rescue helicopter to the incident.”

Whilst the man was treated by paramedics, a HART operative used his mobile phone and downloaded an application to get the exact grid reference for the helicopter to land in.

The man was flown to Luton and Dunstable Hospital. His condition is described as stable.