Mountain rescue

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Helicopter rescue on Mount Shasta in California
Mountain rescue with a Helicopter in the Alps, where landing is not possible
Lowering a litter on a steep slope (training)

Mountain rescue refers to search and rescue activities that occur in a mountainous environment, although the term is sometimes also used to apply to search and rescue in other wilderness environments. The difficult and remote nature of the terrain in which mountain rescue often occurs has resulted in the development of a number of specific pieces of equipment and techniques. Helicopters are often used to quickly extract casualties, and search dogs may be used to locate them.

Car of Horská služba (Czech Republic)
Special stretcher for mountain rescue (Black Forest)

Mountain rescue services may be paid professionals or volunteer professionals. Paid rescue services are more likely to exist in places with a high demand such as the Alps, national parks with mountain terrain and many ski resorts. However, the labor-intensive and occasional nature of mountain rescue, along with the specific techniques and local knowledge required for some environments, means that mountain rescue is often undertaken by voluntary teams. These are frequently made up of local climbers and guides. Often paid rescue services may work in co-operation with voluntary services. For instance, a paid helicopter rescue team may work with a volunteer mountain rescue team on the ground. Mountain rescue is often free, although in some parts of the world rescue organizations may charge for their services. But there are also exceptions, e.g. Switzerland, where mountain rescue is highly expensive (some 2000 to 4000 USD) and will be charged to the patient. In more remote or less-developed parts of the world organized mountain rescue services are often negligible or non-existent.

A rescue helicopter in the Bavarian Alps.
Rappelling from a helicopter in the Alps.
A mountain rescue team operating at Alpe d'Huez, France.

By country[edit]

Canada[edit]

In the five national parks of the Canadian Rockies, mountain rescue is solely the responsibility of Parks Canada's, Mountain Safety Program Specialists. Voluntary self-registration is available at information centers and warden offices whereby if a climbing party does not contact Parks Canada by a predetermined day and time, Parks Canada will initiate a search. However, parties should be self-reliant and not expect a search to begin until the next day (Parks Canada will usually initiate a search the same day if weather and daylight permits). Search and rescue costs are currently paid for by park entrance fees.

France[edit]

The Gendarmerie Nationale is in charge of mountain rescuing. Being a paramilitary police force with law-enforcement assignments, the Gendarmerie has a wide variety of missions, mainly: –search and rescue −surveillance of mountain areas -law enforcement -prevention of accidents and safety of public -deliver expert reports before the courts

The Gendarmerie employs 260 gendarmes, divided in 20 units nationwide; -15 Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne (PGHM)(high mountain) sprinkled in the Alps and the Pyrénées, in addition to the islands of Réunion in the Indian ocean and Corsica. −5 Peloton de Gendarmerie de Montagne,in the Massif central and Vosges areas. 90 per cent of interventions are made by air.

Hong Kong[edit]

According to the website of Civil Aid Service, Mountain Rescue Unit (M.R.U.) was established in 1967 due to the demand of mountain rescue service. At first, the M.R.U. has two separated command centre: one in Hong Kong Island, and the other one in Kowloon Peninsula. The two command centre merged in 1972 and headquartered in Kowloon. In 2005, the M.R.U. was renamed "The Mountain Search and Rescue Company". The Mountain Search and Rescue Company of the Civil Aid Service is responsible for rescue ground operations in the hills in Hong Kong. The Company has 83 officers and 163 members according the newest update data on their website CAS Hong Kong. The unit is aided by the Government Flying Service in the air and Hong Kong Fire Services on the ground. Beside rescue operations, they also help promote mountaineering safety.

Ireland[edit]

Mountain Rescue services in Ireland operate under the umbrella association of Mountain Rescue Ireland (Cumann Tarrthála Sléibhte na h-Éireann in Irish) (Irish Mountain Rescue Association) (IMRA).[1]

Poland[edit]

Spain[edit]

Since 1981 the Guardia Civil's Search and Rescue Group (Grupo de Rescate e Intervención en Montana-GREIM) has been responsible for mountain rescue. Until that date mountain rescue was provided by volunteers. The unit is divided into:

  • Special Mountain Unit
  • Expeditionary Alpine Group
  • Competition Team
  • Special Mountain training Center

The Group comprises 250 members who undergo 10 months training in a specialised training center in Candanchu. The unit is divided into 5 regions (Jaca, Cangas de Onís, Navacerrada, Granada, Vielha e Mijaran). In 2011 they carried out 761 missions.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, mountain rescue is a free service, provided by volunteers. Each team is an independent charity, and are linked together by regional organizations and national bodies. In England and Wales, Mountain Rescue (England & Wales) and in Scotland, MRCofS.[2]

United States[edit]

In the United States, mountain rescue is handled by professional teams within national parks or by volunteer teams. Parks with professional teams include Denali National Park, Yosemite National Park,[3] Grand Teton National Park, and Mount Rainier National Park. Volunteer teams are part of the Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) and operate under the authority of the local sheriff's department. The teams will also assist on missions out-of-county or in a national park when requested.

Under the National Incident Management System, mountain rescue unit qualifications are standardized.[4]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Mountain Rescue Ireland". mountainrescue.ie. Mountain Rescue Ireland. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "Mountain Rescue England & Wales". mountain.rescue.org. Mountain Rescue England & Wales. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "Yosemite National Park: YOSAR". nps.gov. United States National Park Service. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "Resource: Mountain Search and Rescue Team". fema.gov. Federal Emergency Management Agency. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Scott-Nash, Mark (2007). Playing for Real: Stories from Rocky Mountain Rescue. Boulder, Colorado: The Colorado Mountain Club Press. ISBN 0-9760525-6-3. 

External links[edit]