As­sis­tance for moun­tain res­cuers

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - AGENDA -

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

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