Published: 03/11/2017 12:44 - Updated: 03/11/2017 12:55

Rescue team in appeal for hardy new volunteers

 

Assyn Mountain Rescue team leader Sue Agnew
Assyn Mountain Rescue team leader Sue Agnew

 

The brave - but ageing - mountain rescue team that covers Sutherland is seeking a small army of new volunteers.

Assynt MRT, based at Inchnadamph, is currently four short of its preferred operational total of 30, but could take more.

Already eight people have applied to join the team, which has set a deadline on November 10 for recruits.

All will be assessed and put through a probationary period.

Ironically the recruitment boom comes in a quiet year so far for the team, which also covers Caithness.

Assynt MRT have been involved in around 10 incidents this year, but team leader Sue Agnew said many people tend to get caught out from now on with the evenings drawing in.

"We would like some more volunteers and there are also a few in the team who may want to retire," said Sue, who is only the third woman to lead a mountain rescue team in Scotland.

"We probably have the largest patch of any MRT in Scotland - it can take up to three hours to assemble the team.

"We are very keen to have people with ambulance technician skills but we want people with outdoor experience, who are confident on the hills and keen to help others and share their skills.

"We will be assessing those that have already applied to add to the range of skills in the team and everybody is put though first aid training.

"Most of our members are in their late 40s and early 50s and have served for over 10 years. So it would be good to have some younger people. Those who have retired early from the military may also be people who would be very useful to have.

"We may put every applicant on a probationary period until the end of the year to see if they pass - and we may even expand the size of the team if we get the right people.

"It is always good to be prepared - you never know when you will be called out."

All the team members are volunteers who share a love for hillwalking, mountaineering, rock climbing, snow and ice-climbing, caving and generally being in the outdoors.

The team was set up in 1976 following an incident on a local estate with a missing worker.

As a result, a number of interested locals decided to try and set up some robust arrangements for search and rescue in the north.

In the mid 1980s some skilled mountaineers of the Caithness Mountaineering and Ski Club joined the team, to expand it to cover fully all of Caithness and Sutherland. Winter incidents on Ben Hope, Ben Klibreck and Foinaven in the late 1980s cemented these arrangements across the north.

The team also have a fully equipped vehicle in Thurso - and are hoping to raise funds in the future for a base in the Caithness town.

For applications to join the team contact Sue.agnew@virgin.net.

It costs between £20,000 and £30,000-a-year to operate the team. Donations can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/assyntmrt

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