Assistance for mountain rescuers
SIR, – As a founder member in 1964 and former team leader of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team I agree entirely with the mountain rescue teams in this appeal to be taken off the mountains and back to base by helicopter where possible (Press and Journal, November 3), instead of it flying off empty with the team having to carry a dead body over rough ground covered in deep snow and at night in the dark. They themselves could become casualties.
The volunteers have perhaps been working at their regular jobs all day only to get a call-out at night, spend most of the night on the rescue, and their employer expects them to be at work on time the next morning. It can be that team members have then gone 24 hours without sleep.
In my own case my last rescue (due to age!) was to a fatal accident on the Shelter Stone Crags above Loch A’an in the central Cairngorms. The helicopter arrived and landed on the rock above the crag. Once the body was lowered from the crag the helicopter took off back to base leaving the Cairngorm team to carry the body up Coire Domhain, over the shoulder of Cairngorm and down into Coire Cas (the Royal Navy would not recover bodies but this changed when the RAF took over). The team spent many hours overnight on the mountain whereas if the helicopter had recovered the body it would have cut the rescue team time by a considerable amount.
As regards the team being “lazy” (implied), the minister in question should go out with one of the teams on a rescue at night in winter, snowing and blowing, she might just get a different impression.
The helicopter crews are marvellous but have to abide by the rules laid down by their masters. Alistair McCook MBE, Woodside, Nethy Bridge