THE ICY grip has already started taking its toll on the region’s emergency services.

Wrexham Maelor Hospital has reported a rise in the number of casualties at its accident and emergency department.

A spokesman said figures for patients visiting A and E yesterday morning showed an increase and the injuries were mainly caused by people slipping on the ice.

Iain Ashcroft, team leader of the North East Wales Search and Rescue (NEWSAR), warned people that although the countryside was beautiful in the snow, the landscape hid many potential dangers and he stressed people should ensure they don’t get caught out of their depth.

On Saturday night NEWSAR took part in a dramatic operation to help four people stranded in a 4x4 vehicle on Llantysilio Mountain. The mission was the group’s 58th call out of the year, which already takes them past 2009’s figure of 57.

“If people are going out into the countryside in these types of conditions they should be well prepared, thoroughly equipped and plan ahead. Never do anything beyond their capabilities and always show common sense,” said Mr Ashcroft.

“Sometimes, unfortunately, when people see a beautiful snowy landscape it lowers their guard and leads them into making decisions they wouldn’t normally take.”

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesman said the trust was closely monitoring the weather forecast for the region and had contingency plans in place to deal with adverse conditions.

He said: “We are also working with other emergency services to make sure we can get medical help to a patient in a quick and safe manner in wintry conditions.

“If anyone needs medical attention but feels they may not need an emergency ambulance they can contact NHS Direct Wales on 08454647 to speak to a nurse advisor or health information advisor.”