From soaring peaks to icy crevasses, mountains are as dangerous as they are beautiful. Mountain rescue teams are often made up of volunteers willing to step in and help at short notice, and their search and rescue operations can take place on lots of different types of terrain.
Why Volunteer With A Mountain Rescue Charity?
Whether it's to rescue a hiker stuck in the mud or pluck a climber from the side of a rock face, mountain rescue teams are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There can be a lot of training involved, but if you're ready for the commitment, volunteering could be highly rewarding as well as physically challenging.
You don't necessarily need to be interested in the outdoor side of mountain rescue though, or even physically fit. There can be other things you can do to help a team perform its role.
How To Help Mountain Rescue Charities
JOIN A MOUNTAIN RESCUE TEAM
Being an active member of a mountain rescue team is a big commitment. Teams are constantly on call, so you'll need to be available to attend incidents at short notice. You'll also need to go through plenty of training to get up to standard, whether that's on technical ropework, water rescue or first aid. If you want to get involved with the operations across difficult terrain, then you'll also need a strong level of personal fitness.
LEND YOUR SKILLS
It may surprise you to learn that not all mountain rescue volunteers need to be able to pull off the kind of moves displayed by Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible. From administration skills in an office, to being able to work on maintaining vehicles, you may have experience that contributes to the efficient running of a rescue team.
Lots of mountain rescue teams require their members to supply their own equipment. If they don't, valuable funds are taken up paying for things such as the correct clothing, boots, rucksacks, helmets and harnesses. Whether you have some climbing gear you don't need, or a good quality waterproof that you barely use, donating equipment to a mountain rescue team can be a great way to help.
WORK YOUR WAY UP
If you'd like to get a feel for search and rescue before committing to a team that tackles the mountains, you could try out lowland rescue first. This often involves things like searching for vulnerable and missing people who perhaps don't realise they're in danger, which may involve mental health issues or dementia. You'll still need to learn plenty of core skills though, including things such as river and flood rescue.
Things To Know Before You Volunteer
Although you won't be expected to be on call 24/7 yourself, mountain rescue teams can be called out any time of the day or night, so you'll have to organise this around any other work you do.
As you'll need a fair amount of training, it's only fair to the team you volunteer with to stick around for a while. For this reason, you may be required to make a minimum time commitment of at least three to six months.
Where To Get Started
There are lots of mountain rescue teams across the country that are always looking for volunteers, including:
People's Postcode Lottery players raised over £7,000 for these two mountain rescue teams combined, helping them to improve their service to people in their hour of need. By playing, you can also help to make a big difference to small charities like these.