Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Mountain Rescue Needs YOU!

One of the highlights of this year's Kendal Mountain Festival was the chance to learn more about the fabulous work that Mountain Rescue do and actually hear some of the stories from their "rescuees" first hand.

Blacks had reunited a number of folks helped by Mountain Rescue with some of the team involved in bringing them to safety - and there were some impressive tales to be heard - people that had gone out really well prepared and had simply met with an accident.  It was a sobering reminder that it could happen to any one of us.  (And who am I to judge after my most recent escapade?  Head and ribs mostly healed now thanks and hand still giving me gip but improving by the day)  Anyway, back to Mountain Rescue...

As you may remember I spent the whole of 2015 mapping every single call out they were involved with so many of the stories were already familiar to me - if you want to see the interactive map, and why wouldn't you, it's right here.

I was fascinated with learning more about the team and what goes on behind the scenes so here are a few titbits:

  • They pay cost price for their kit but don't get any of it for free, hence the need for constant fundraising.  The reduction in costs also extends to vehicles with Mercedes Benz offering them £6,000 off their next 4x4 - but they still need to raise the other £20k +
  • Ideally they need 16 people to stretcher someone off a fell, working in teams of 8 on and 8 off, rotating when one team tires.  If there aren't 16 people available they just have to make do with what they have or call on neighbouring teams for support.
  • All of them have "proper" jobs and, I should imagine, pretty understanding employers.  When the pagers go off those who can head off immediately while others may not be able to make it for another hour or more, but that's not a bad thing.  As they pointed out it's often good to know there's fresh legs coming along later, especially on a long rescue.
  • While technology may get the blame for more folks getting lost these days, they were quick to point out that the same technology has helped them to locate people more quickly.  SARLOC enables victims to be found with the ping of a text message.
  • They NEVER rant and rage at folks who require rescuing after going out under-prepared.  As they said to me "We've all done something stupid at some point in our lives so who are we to judge?"  They do try to educate them about navigation and appropriate clothing once they've reached safety.
"What you need is..."  There were many suggestions from the audience about things they could do to raise funds - Mountain Rescue branded kit, charity shops etc.  but what they really need are more volunteers - folks like me and you, who can help them do those sorts of things.The only thing stopping them right now is manpower.

You don't have to be a gnarly outdoors type with an intricate knowledge of the fells and an understanding boss to join Mountain Rescue - they are in desperate need a whole variety of "back office" volunteers who can undertake things like marketing, publicity, fundraising etc. etc. so if you think YOU have some skills which could help them contact them via their website HERE - I know they'd be delighted to hear from you.

And if you want to help but are unable to spare any time, or perhaps live at the other end of the country, you can make a donation via their Just Giving page here - every penny will be gratefully received  and very well spent.

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