By Michelle Crean

Given the high numbers of people observed out on Kerry mountains at the weekend one local life-saving group has had to make some difficult choices.

Due to COVID-19, Kerry Mountain Rescue Team are asking walkers to forego their enjoyment of the hills for the moment and to stick to lowland paths and walkways, while strictly observing social distancing principles – otherwise, they say that a time could come when the team may not be able to respond at all.

“When calling out the Team to an incident, our first priority has to be the safety of Team members and their families,” Colm Burke, PRO, KMRT, said.

“We are all volunteers, many of whom live with and care for ‘vulnerable’ people at home and in our working lives. If you call 999 and ask for Mountain Rescue, we will of course do what we can, however, if you are uninjured, lost or benighted, you will be asked to consider waiting until morning, and/or better visibility to extricate yourself. If you are ‘walking wounded’ you will be asked to consider extricating yourself from the mountain. If you are seriously injured, and/or not physically able to get yourself off the hill, we will attend with the absolute minimum of team members needed to complete the task. Because of this, the evacuation will be less straightforward and the overall time to transport you to medical attention will be much longer.”
Helicopter support will only be requested if a time critical injury is sustained, he added.

“While contrary to everything Kerry Mountain Rescue believe in, these measures are necessary to protect Team members and their families at this time. COVID-19 is a very serious threat and it’s time everyone faced up to their responsibilities in order to limit the spread of the virus. Government guidelines have been very clear about physical distancing and many people have chosen to ignore this, putting everyone at risk.”

He explained that by its very nature, mountain rescue requires close contact between both rescuers and casualty, exposing everyone to the risk of infection.

“Remember, we could also infect you! Our already over-burdened hospitals don’t need or want any avoidable admissions over this difficult period.

Let’s all put our shoulder to the wheel now and do our bit. Be responsible, stop the spread. Remember, the mountains will always be there.”