Huge rise in mountain rescues
Mountain heroes rescued more than 850 people on Scottish hills last year - a massive increase on the previous 12 months, their annual review has revealed.
The soaring numbers have largely been blamed on more call outs associated with The Beast from the East weather period.
In total the 24 teams belonging to Scottish Mountain Rescue dealt with 588 incidents, 683 call outs, logging up 29,091 hours in saving 851 people.
The organisation includes Assynt, but does not include some of Scotland's busiest mountain rescue teams, such as Lochaber, Cairngorm and Glencoe.
The total compares to the previous year when there were 423 incidents, 642 call outs, helping 553 people.
An incident may involve a number of call outs to resolve.
Of last year's total incidents, 41 percent were mountaineering related and five involved the rescue of dogs and another six, sheep.
Damon Powell, SMR chairman, said: "All team members are volunteers and will be going about everyday life just as anyone else is, working or at home or out enjoying themselves. When a call-out comes in, they have to work out if they can be available for that rescue. Arranging for other family members/ friends/ work colleagues to take over commitments.
"An often-overlooked benefit of having a national group of mountain rescue teams working and training together is that we are collectively upskilling around 850 volunteers spread across Scotland. These volunteers take the skills developed and use them in other charities, within their communities and in the work place.
"The question for employers is not can you afford to allow MR volunteers time away from work to support the community, but can your organisation afford not to have employees with such a diverse range of skills."
Kev Mitchell, Vice Chairman said:"As ever is has been a very busy year for volunteer mountain rescue teams. This is only possible because of the huge commitment from team members that ensures there is a world class mountain rescue service whenever needed across Scotland.
"We must also thank the wider support network that enables this fantastic service to operate including family members, employers and others without whom individual rescue team members would not be able to provide the great service.”
In his foreword, Richard Parkes, Director of Maritime Operations and HM Coastguard said:“On a daily basis I see the dedication to help and provide assistance to any person who needs it. I know that this dedication is reflected across all Scottish mountain rescue teams, where we see volunteers responding in the most difficult and challenging situations.
“The term unsung here can be over-used, but for search and rescue, the term is most certainly apt. it sums up the incredible passion, dedication and drive of all teams, volunteers and supporters.
"I am familiar with the sacrifices that all volunteers make, particularly in relation to the time they do not get to spend with their loved ones. Across UK search and rescue we are seeing more reliance on our capabilities and this growing demand has been met magnificently by Scottish mountain rescue.”