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Increase in callouts will have big impact on Scottish Mountain Rescue teams

By John Davidson

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Training time could be impacted by a rise in callouts. Picture: Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team
Training time could be impacted by a rise in callouts. Picture: Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team

Mountain rescue leaders in Scotland are warning that teams may need more support in future after a record year for callouts.

Damon Powell, chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue which represents 25 civilian teams as well as three police teams and one RAF unit, said it was putting increased pressure on team members' time and training.

It comes as the organisation's annual review for 2021 shows the teams experienced the busiest year on record.

Mr Powell said: “If the upward trend in callouts continues, this will undoubtedly impact the teams in a variety of ways. They may need to increase membership, requiring additional equipment and potentially extra vehicles – equipment used on callouts will need to be replaced more frequently and the volunteers will have less time to train as a team.

“Despite the increase in callouts, as the country returned to ‘normal,’ Scottish Mountain Rescue were able to deliver a national training programme over the past year, engaging with around 400 volunteers across a wide range of disciplines, for instance casualty care, rigging, avalanche awareness and wellbeing."

Figures for last year show the teams under the SMR umbrella – which excludes Cairngorm, Lochaber and Glencoe teams – were mobilised 951 times on 660 separate incidents. Volunteers spent 31,799 hours on rescues, in addition to training time.

Kev Mitchell, vice chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue, said: “We hope the production of our annual review will give the general public a flavour of the hard work and commitment shown by Scottish Mountain Rescue team volunteers and, while we are proud of 31,799 hours of volunteering on callouts, this figure can easily be doubled when training activities are taken into account."

Rescuers are keen to emphasise that despite the increased demands, team members remain available at any time to help. In an emergency, people should call 999 or 112 and ask for police then mountain rescue.

The annual review can be read at www.scottishmountainrescue.org/annual-review-2021

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