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What is Mountain Rescue??

If you live in an area of Britain with or near a national park the chances are you live in an area with a Mountain Rescue Team (MRT). Mountain Rescue is typically associated with areas such as the Lake District, Wales, and highlands of Scotland, but there are also teams operating in areas such as the South Pennines, Dartmoor and the Scottish borders - all providing search and rescue cover. Emily Thompson is a member of Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) and explain a bit more about what MR is and what you need to consider if you want to become and MRT member.

What is Mountain Rescue?

Mountain Rescue refers to activities that involve searching for missing and/or injured people, often in mountainous areas or wilderness environments, sometimes leading to evacuating casualties from remote or difficult to access terrain.  It is most often related to walkers or climbers in a hillwalking or mountainous environment.  MRT members are usually volunteers who live close to or within a specified catchment of the MRT area.  They can be called out at any time of day or night to help with rescue or search activities.  Specialist equipment, including helicopters and search dogs, are sometimes used to assist the team in their role, depending on the access and severity of the incident where the callout is made.

Some MRTs also cover urban areas, so search & rescue activities can include a wide range of activities:

  • Missing people searches on derelict urban land
  • Supporting government agencies in extreme weather, such as floods
  • Supporting emergency services at major incidents
  • Education & assistance for Duke of Edinburgh participants
  • Emergency planning with emergency services
  • Rescue cover at public events
Mountain Rescue England and Wales is a registered charity comprising members of mountain rescue teams and regions and representatives from cave rescue. There are 48 Mountain Rescue teams operating across England and Wales. Coordination north of the border is through Scottish Mountain Rescue under a similar structure. Across Scotland there are 24 teams. There is also the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue coordinating 35 teams operating a voluntary service in non-upland areas - so even if you live somewhere more urban you could still get involved.  All these organisations are independent charities, made up entirely by volunteers.

How do I get involved or find out more?

1. Read our article on Becoming a Mountain Rescue member
2. Check out MREW or Scottish Mountain Rescue to see if there's a team in your local area
Most teams have strict induction periods for new trainees and will do a pre-assessment of your skills to check it worth you sign up and committing the time.
If you don't think you have the time but would still love to get involved, most teams also have a dedicated friends group who help them with fundraising and promotional work at galas, as well as being exercise casualties for training. It generally costs around £20k a year to keep a team going in terms of upkeep of vehicles, first aid and other equipment, radios and clothing. So get involved and make an impact!

Read more about mountain rescue and the work they do: 

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