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Monday, 11 April 2011

Third of the way there...

Update on donations so far: a few more arms twisted up backs this week and we're up to £1,626.00 – that's 33% of our target!

Our wonderful 'press person' Sally (see Sal, I said it again, just to check you're reading the blog lol!) has now sent out a second press release so hopefully there'll be a positive rash of donations over the next few days.

Sally's latest press release focuses more on the fact we're hoping whatever we raise will get the new Mountain Rescue Benevolent Fund off to a good start. So what is this benevolent fund?

Well, it's a tricky one this. As anyone who keeps a weather eye on the news knows (or anyone who read my book, come to that – 'Mountain Rescue', written with mountain rescue colleague Bob Sharp, and published by Hayloft, ONLY £20, email me for details!!!) mountain rescue can be a risky business.

Most of the time, it's picking up casualties – more often than not a fractured tib and fib – or finding those who are lost. Sometimes it's searching for missing persons – and when it's a missing child, it can be particularly traumatic – and sometimes it's assisting the ambulance service during harsh winter conditions. Then again, there's been protracted mountain rescue involvement in civil stuff like the floods which hit Cockermouth, Sheffield, Avon and Somerset – all high profile natural emergencies during which volunteer team members walked away from their families, their work and their hobbies, to support their communities. Wading through chest-high flood water, dodging plate glass windows in full sail down the high street, avoiding debris, effluent, bobbing cars, or a cat's cradle of wool set free from the local wool shop by the unstoppable tidal flow – to rescue residents from their own homes, deliver food, or even district nurses, to those in need.

Every incident team members undertake is dynamically risk-assessed by those leading the team. (If this were the official sales pitch, I'd be saying something like 'safety is paramount'.) And inherent in team membership is trust in your fellow team members in what might be quite surreal circumstances. Back in the floods, what if anything had happened to one of those team members? What if one of them had tripped on some unseen hazard, lurking under the waters? Been knocked off their feet by a water-borne Renault van? Or pinned to a wall by a garden chair? What if a team member had lost their life during the rescue operation?

Very recently, members of two Lake District teams went out in appalling conditions (slates being blown horizontally through the air, team members only able to make progress forward on all fours) to search for a missing walker, a man with plenty of experience on the hill. At the end of the search, and the missing man now accounted for, one team member had not returned to base (he eventually returned safe and well) leaving his team leadership debating what they might be telling his family by the morning light, and how. My point is, whatever the risk assessment says, however experienced you are, these things happen.

And, if a team member dies – or gets seriously injured during a rescue – chances are there's a family at home having to cope with the loss. There might be bills to be paid, children's dinner money to find, food to be bought: stuff that won't wait while paperwork is sorted, t's crossed and i's dotted. And this might be where the benevolent fund steps in, to ease that family's financial worries.

Anyway, I'm starting to sound like that sales pitch after all... so I'll put a sock in it now. Just thought you should know.

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