BY MICHELLE CREAN
With seven mountain fatalities, 44 callouts resulting in 67 people assisted, and a total of 2400 rescue hours – it’s certainly been a busy year for the Kerry Mountain Rescue Team.
And the voluntary organisation, which currently has 35 voluntary members, is appealing to the public to think safety when heading out to the mountains.
During 2018, callouts have ranged from search and rescue to medical assistance and recovery operations in and around the mountain ranges of the southwest, Colm Burke
PRO Kerry Mountain Rescue Team,explained.
“The team has unfortunately had to deal with an unusually high number of tragic incidents this year, with seven fatalities recorded since February,” he said.
During the year, the team, who were honoured to be a joint recipient of the prestigious Hugh O’Flaherty Humanitarian Award, have put in 2000 training hours, he added.
“Team training sessions during the year have focussed on the traditional aspects of casualty care and search and rescue in upland areas, along with the introduction of some new technical equipment to improve rope safety systems.”
And he had a safety message for anyone thinking of heading out climbing in the next few weeks.
“With the short winter days, cold weather and dark skies, it’s more important than ever to plan ahead to ensure you stay safe out there. As the winter sets in, there are a few key safety considerations for those heading into the mountains.
“Make sure you start your walk or climb early enough in the day; be aware of what time it gets dark and allow for a change in the weather too. Plan your day and route taking into consideration a reliable mountain weather forecast. Leave a route plan with a responsible person. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the weather during the day. Always be prepared to turn back or take a shorter route. The mountains will still be there another day. Whatever your plans, you’ll need a good torch and spare batteries in case you get delayed. People sometimes prefer to carry a second lightweight torch so they don’t need to change batteries in the cold or the dark if the head torch packs up.
If you need help, he added, dial 999 or 112, then ask for ‘Mountain Rescue’.
“Give all your prepared details of the incident and stay where you are until contacted by the rescue team.”
He added, at their recent annual Christmas gathering, a special presentation was made to those team members with in excess of 25 years’ service. Among those individually honoured were Maureen Chevens and Maureen O’Reilly, affectionately known as ‘The Two Maureens’.
“The Maureens were an integral part of the team for many years, assisting with the co-ordination of rescue operations and painstakingly recording all rescue events, timelines and communications. And he said that KMRT would like to extend a sincere thanks to all those who have donated funds to the team over the year.
“The team relies heavily on donations to meet our annual running costs and we very much appreciate the effort that donors and fundraisers make in this regard.”