/ search and rescue team member
any advice or comments welcome...
Have a browse of some websites and get an overview particularly of the call outs. Bear in mind its not all dangling from cliff edges as well!
These days its not easy to get into any team, as lots of people now apply - you need to differentiate yourself
Good luck, its a great team!
Where do I register for my WIMQ? ;)
Ensure you have an in depth knowledge of the search region covered by the team, as has been said you can have team members with quali's coming out of their ears, but if you don't know the area you can forget it.
It often gets forgotten, but local knowledge of an area beats pretty much anything else hands down.
Each team has different recruiting criterea reflecting the differances in what they do. I believe either/both Ogwen or Llanberis require you to be able to lead V.diff in boots, we (CBMRT) don't have the sort of terrain that requires this. By the end of basic training the only 'mountaineering' skills the team requires is to be competent and comfortable on steep ground and abseiling/being lowered down vertical pitches. With the possible exception of the NE face of Pen Y Fan (which isn't technically in our patch) this enables us to access anywhere we need to.
A quick look at NEWSAR's website shows they have broadly similar acceptance criteria to us along with a similar spectrum of call outs. That is, some of what you may consider traditional MR work - injured walkers etc along with a fair bit of less obvious stuff. This will include searches for missing and or vulnerable people, anyone injured away from the road side - mountain bikers, farmers and maybe the ocassional RTC where vehicles have left the road and ended up down a ravine etc.
You will more than likely end up in some strange places at strange hours of the day. Not until you have gone on a few searches for a missing vulnerable will you truly appreciate how many little patches of total wilderness there are tucked away in what to a casual glance looks like nice tame farmland or even outright urban developement.
The teams are also charities and I expect that much like ours you will be expected to put time into helping out with fundraising which may include shaking collecting tins or marshelling events on the hill.
I have learnt a lot, and have been able to put that knowledge to good use on occassion. I've felt frustration and anger but equally hapiness and a pride in a job well done.
Joining the team is something I'm really pleased I did.
I am the Deputy Team Leader of North East Wales Search and Rescue (NEWSAR) so I should be able to answer your questions - feel free to DM me if you wish to ask anything confidentially.
The team recruits once per year, and there is a 12-month training period. The interview process is 3-stage: papersift, interview and 'hill day'. There are no qualification requirements as such, although we expect applicants to have a basic knowledge of navigation, an idea of who the team is and what we do, and an understanding of the commitment required.
A lot of the techniques and training involved in joining a Mountain Rescue team are specific to SAR. Previous experience in the outdoors will help, but we train new recruits from scratch in medical skills, rope rescue, search techniques, comms, near-water or in-water rescue, working with aircraft and other subjects during the first 12 months. You will also be expected to develop your navigation ability to ML-standard or higher, work alonsgide other team members and other agencies and show you can commit to the conditions of membership. Obviously you will have to maintain a level of fitness to perform the role required.
That last bit is often a surprise to people. The training takes place four times per month (3 evenings and 1 Sunday exercise), plus other weekend courses and exercises. Then there are the callouts (approximately 50-70 per year), which often go on for 4-6 hours in all weathers. The team has a big area - basically all of North and Mid Wales that ISN'T a national park - and sometimes it can be over an hour to drive to a callout.
Like all volunteer work, being part of an MRT is rewarding, tiring, fun, frustrating and, at times, tough. Unlike most volunteer work however it will demand a lot of your time. Callouts come at the most awkward moments, are mostly about trudging across boggy moors and remote farmland rather than abseiling down crags and jumping out of Sea Kings. Like most teams away from tourist hotspots, NEWSAR has to spend a lot of time raising money in order to keep operating and it requires team members to give some commitment to help with this.
Mountain Rescue has taken me to some very interesting places, introduced me to some of my best friends and given me some fantastic experiences (having a Sea King materialise out of a whiteout on the Berwyns in front of you without warning, locating the casualty just as they drop into severe hypothermia, watching 50 team members who have been out searching for days and are about to go home pick up rucksacks and head into a storm when a new callout comes in) that money couldn't buy. If you think you can commit, want to help and are willing to learn then you'll probably be OK.
Application forms can be found here:
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