/ Mountain Rescue and the RAC
I read recently that there is a large increase in mountain rescue call-outs and that around half of all incidents requiring assistance can be traced back to a navigation error.
On another forum, I read a claim that in the future there will be, “Those who want to navigate themselves and those who want to follow a GPS.” A follow up post said, “Everyone will be using only GPS in 10 years.”
I then reflected on the near sycophantic praise for mountain rescue teams seen on forums and in the media following a rescue – is it because (for some) the rescue team has become an integral part of planning for a day on the hill. An RAC or Green Flag for the hill walker.
Co-ordinator of mountain rescue in Grampian, said: “… we may be about to witness a marked increase in the complete reliance of Smartphone apps to navigate some of the UK’s highest mountains . . . what is particularly concerning is that the individuals who are relying on this technology often do not possess even rudimentary mountain navigation skills.”
Is it better to learn those rudimentary skills rather than choosing to make a donation to a rescue team after a call-out.
or learn the skills and make a donation when you get back to the pub, and hope you'll never have to call out MR?
I do feel people are a lot more reliant on others to get them out of trouble nowadays.
I met a guy last month (a nice guy seemed quite experienced and had done a lot) who had been rescued in North Wales around the Idwal Slabs area through going off route on a scramble and when I asked him what he was doing to make sure it never happened again he didn't seem to bothered and said he would call them again if he got in any more trouble and had learned nothing from the occasion. They were there in half an hour he said he really enjoyed the helicopter ride. Should have left him to sweat it out a bit longer I think.
I took a guy last year camping to Glencoe to do the Aonach Eagoch ridge didn't really know him that well but he said he was fit and had done lots of hillwalking and camping, just after everyone got their heads down he knocked on my van door and said he had an headache and wanted to go to the hospital, I said we are miles from anywhere can't it wait till the morning no he said he thought he was going to die, won't they send an helicopter for me?, I asked him who was going to pay for it his reply was I am on the dole won't they pick up the cost. Anyways drove him to Fort William dropped him off went back to the campsite started to get my head down when he called "Doctor said nothing is wrong but i still don't feel right any chance you can drive back to Fort William and lend me £80 to get the train home?"
Then there is the Benchgate incident were a group of young lads presumed there mate would be rescued because he was feeling cold and left him.
These 3 incidents along with the various media reports in the Lakes recently have really made me question what people feel is their right to be rescued.
On the flip side MR is increasingly using technology such as SARLOC to triangulate peoples position from a phones GPS signal, mobile phones are prominent beacons for night vision equipment and there is some talk of the use of quadcopters and drones to save troop hours on the hill. Its not inconceivable that lost walkers will be located and escorted off the hill by a quadcopter.
Blessing and a curse really.
While vehicles have become more reliable over the years have hiil walkers become less reliable in finding their way home. Or is it all down to the large numbers taking to the hills and countryside for a varity of reasons.
MRT people supplemented with drone operators!
Fast forward a few years, we could probably carry our own mini personal drones and just send one of them for help.
Fine in areas where there is not only phone coverage but of a quality suitable for data and when the lost person both has a smartphone AND knows how to use it.
Usefully, technology to detect mobile phones in mountainous country has been development for some time. A prototype from Switzerland that I saw demonstrated used the data about the user's phone and SIM obtained from the network operator to detect a specific phone in a busy ski area. Data protection might be more of an issue in the UK but even a system that detected ANY phone could be very useful in remote areas.
That'll be on hills where it's not windy.
No need for fast forward.
It'll need a massive battery if they're as slow as the last lot we walked off......
Yeah my post was a bit rushed but got back too late to edit it, my point was that technology is a double edged weapon that can help and hinder both parties, and that the SAR community can use gizmos too. Also meant to say that robo-rescue is some way off! But team member hours are already being saved by intelligent use of technology. Even if, I must concede, those hours are necessitated by someones over reliance on that same technology.
You really cannot compare MRT with the RAC, as the latter have no ethics. They left us on the far side of the country from home without help and it took 24 hours to get home, after paying fees for worthless membership for years and never calling them out till we had a real emergency.
2 kids in the car 70 miles from home winter afternoon. Borrowed a phone after walking to a shop to get help. Operator point blank told us we weren't covered as there had been water on the road (alleged we had driven through a flood) and left us to find our own way home!
In actual fact the wet weather had caused our alternator to fail.
MRT are a good thing, RAC are Worthess rogues
Only comparing them in the sense that some people appear to be misusing MR, almost like a paid for service.
Sorry to read that your experience with the RAC was not good.
Having watched a few of those Highland Rescue programmes I can't help thinking the rescue services are partially to blame. They don't actually seem to be short of funds and they seem to be only too happy to fly off to even the most trivial case, presumably as on the job training for the big one. How many episodes end with: "the walker rescued from such-and-such a mountain made a quick recovery and was discharged from hospital the next day"? My admittedly limited experience of the Services tells me they have a budget for the year and that budget needs using up, otherwise they fear it will be reduced next year - we bought a demobbed MOD Landy and it came with five brand new tyres and suspension components so new that the LR parts barcode labels were still fresh and clean.
The fear of litigation also hangs over the heads of phone operators and others involved in the rescue services: I saw an episode where a bunch of schoolgirls on D of E had been stopped by a swollen burn and so were helicoptered off. They had tents and presumably sleeping bags, so why didn't the operator check there were no injuries then assure them that the burn would soon subside, they were in no danger and should stay put in the spirit of self-reliance until they could walk out? You can imagine the newspaper headlines if any operator dared take such an action.
Oh yes, I'm a great fan of technology, and being able to sort a rescue without leaving home or work...... and a SARLOC fix can really speed things up - for example, we recently had a search where the SARLOC fix (on the informant, not the missing person) really narrowed the search area down in the first 5 minutes.
.....but as you say, many of them would have managed to sort themselves out if they didn't have a mobile phone in their pocket.
The abuse/misuse/over-reliance on MR services is just a reflection of what is experienced daily in the ambulance service. Where everybody wants reassurance/ checking-over/ assistance for every little thing and they want it 'now' with minimal effort or delay on their part. It isn't realistic or sustainable.
So until the problem is dealt with in the wider society I can't see things changing in the mountain rescue setting.
I remember once coming across a mountain biker shuffling across the pavement on his bum, one leg held out stiffly in front of him, while his pals looked on in embarrassment. "I've called an ambulance, I fell off and I've got a hole in my leg!" he moaned. At that moment the ambulance turned up; the faces of the crew were a picture. I left, also embarrassed.
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