Monday, November 9

Mountain Rescue Services - Call-outs on the rise in 2009?

October's Mountain Rescue magazine dropped onto the doormat a few weeks ago, but it was only the past few days that I found time to sit down and peruse it at leisure.

As a member of Basecamp, the MRT Support Club for England & Wales, this comes as part of the membership package and is always an interesting read. Content is geared (naturally) towards MRT personnel, but there is usually a couple of items that catch my interest as a non-MRT reader (See July's piece concerning mobile telephone access to emergency services)

The latest issue was no exception with a report that Keswick MRT calls hit 100 in late August, an increase of 77% compared to 2008, and a 66% increase in alerts. North Wales also experienced a 20% rise over 2008 figures.

Whilst exceptional, this is not necessarily the pattern across all MR Teams.

But given a 14% increase in the number of individual team involvement call-outs across the Lake District area as a whole, prior to the August Bank Holiday, its clear that the demand on some MRTs is in danger of becoming untenable. Particularly for the many volunteers who freely give of their time, and live with the disruption to their personal & work life.

Basecamp proffers one solution, suggesting increasing awareness amongst groups on mountain activities.

I've a few more radical ideas concerning individual responsibility, self-assist, common sense, and unnatural hiding places for improperly used mobile phones.

But perhaps its better I resist the temptation to go into detail.

Well for the present, at least.

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The mobile phone is one problem; it is both a blessing and a curse.In a dire emergency on the hill, yes, it could mean the difference between life and death. In Scotland in particular where there are long walk in's and walk out's, where, for example in the Cairngorms, the weather can turn nasty very rapidly; I have heard many times accounts of people who have taken on more than they can handle and immediately ringing the mrt. Another problem, dare I say this? Is too much technology, people who rely soley on the sat nav, aids, mapping and so forth but have no grounding in the basics of navigation. It has amazed me that I have been actually criticised for having no gps etc. Possibly too attitude plays a part. At one time on the hill it was an accepted fact that one would get wet, cold and tired at some point, tents leaked, folk had no money for fancy gear; they made do, often biviing, whatever the conditions.It appears these days a lot of people want their home comforts, things turn nasty on the hill, rather than dealing with it and possibly having to put up with the discomfort and hardship of the situation the easier option is taken, re, call out. Sorry John to be so dogmatic but I do feel the system is being abused which in turn could be detrimental to the whole structure of the MRT as we know it.
By the by, I am not anti technology, used correctly techy things can be a boon but not used as the be all and end all of the outdoors. Even I have a gizmo on my wish list, a satnav, handy as back up on some of the featureless terrain of the Cairngorm region. Please father christmas may I have one before my next trip???????????/
I wonder if this is due to the recession.

At the start of the year we were hearing that people would be holidaying at home and the outdoors would be one area that would benefit.

I can imagine people not use to the great outdoor would panic more easily and call the MRT's out quicker than people use to the hills.
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