A very successful Mountain Rescue Ireland Conference and AGM, hosted by the Sligo / Leitrim Team took at the weekend. Approximately 60 delegates representing all 12 teams in the country attended. The theme for the weekend was Securing your Future the theme for the weekend with range for workshops and speakers provided that looked at the development of teams and Mountain Rescue Ireland into the future.

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SLMRT at the MRI conference and AGM in the Radisson Blu Sligo

With the current cold snap upon us, Mountain Rescue Teams would like to encourage anyone entering the mountains, either on foot or by vehicle, to assess the dangers.  Many road users, for example, began their journeys with no inkling of what lay ahead, despite warnings on the radio, etc.

We are not asking for people to remain away from the mountains. Many people participate in Winter Mountaineering, Ice Climbing and other sports, like Skiing, if the conditions are right. What we do ask is that whether you’re enjoying recreational activities or merely trying to commute across the hills, please make a sensible assessment of the venture.  Carry out preparations in case of problems, such as a sudden deterioration of the weather.

What can you do?

For road users:-

  • Postpone the journey or select another route (retreat from poor roads rather than hoping they’ll improve around the corner)
  • Heed all advice on the media (AA Roadwatch, etc.)
  • Carry blankets/sleeping bag, flask of tea, food
  • Carry a small spade
  • Be aware that Mountain Rescue will only rescue you, NOT your vehicle!

For hill-walkers, etc:-

  • Get as detailed a weather forecast as possible
  • Ensure that you and your equipment are up to the task (know the limitations of both – winter conditions require specialised gear)
  • Carry enough emergency equipment to keep you warm should you or a friend become injured & need to stop moving (e.g. a survival shelter)
  • Leave word with someone responsible
  • Carry a fully charged mobile phone

In case of Emergency in or on the Mountains:  Call 999/112 and ask for ‘Mountain Rescue’

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Kings Gully December 2010

Over one hundred children from Carbury National School, Mercy Primary School, St John’s National School and Sligo School Project have today (Wednesday 17th November) attended a ‘Keep Safe’ event at Sligo Fire Station.  A range of state agencies and organisations came together to deliver the programme which is directed at 5th and 6th class pupils.  It aims to promote safety and community awareness through involving the children in a series of interactive scenarios with a strong safety theme.

The event was hosted by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and facilitated by Junior Achievement Ireland.

Speaking at the event, Christina McEleney, Health and Safety Authority Board member said, “The Keep Safe initiative is designed to be an enjoyable and interactive way for school children to learn about issues like water safety, electricity, road safety and more.  All of the agencies here today are using their resources and knowledge for the benefit of the community.”

The aims of the one day ‘Keep Safe’ event are to help children to:

  • become aware of personal and home safety,
  • learn how to react to dangerous situations,
  • foster good citizenship,
  • learn how to recognise hazards and manage risks,
  • learn how to stay safe within the context of, for example, road safety, water safety, fire safety and site safety.

Sligo-Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team was one of a number of agencies and organisations that were represented on the day included the Health and Safety Authority, Junior Achievement Ireland, Bus Éireann, Construction Industry Federation, Civil Defence, ESB Networks, Sligo Fire Service, Garda Síochána, Irish Coast Guard,  and Sligo County Council (road safety).

Shannon Lucas, a member of Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit, who was holidaying in Sligo made a recent visit to the Sligo Team. BAMRU is a volunteer team based in the San Francisco Bay Area, which also covers part of Yosemite National Park.
http://www.bamru.org/

http://bamru.blogspot.com/2010/07/bamru-in-ireland.html

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Following the success of last years event the Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue have announced they are holding a sale of local artwork to raise much needed funds. Members of the public are invited to attend the exhibitions opening on Sunday the 13th of June at 5pm in Tobergal Lane Cafe, Sligo Town.

Heidi Wickham secretary for the mountain rescue team says “around 15 artists have very generously agreed to donate 50% of their sales as a donation to us. This is a great opportunity for the public to view and purchase a wide variety of contemporary art as well as supoporting a local 999 service.

Come along to Tobergal Lane Cafe on Sunday to meet members of the team, check out their control vehicle and equipment and have some food and wine. There will also be a raffle for tickets to the Cairde Festival.

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Sligo/Leitrim Mountain Rescue were called out to Knocknarea Mountain this afternoon after a woman sustained injuries when she fell while out walking. The woman, who was in her 40s and from Glenfarne in Co. Leitrim, had been out with a friend when she slipped on some loose rock on the descent from Knockrea, and injured her lower leg.

The Mountain Rescue Team were tasked to the scene, along with ambulance staff. The woman was taken down safely and brought to Sligo General Hospital for treatment. Alan Sayers from Sligo/Leitrim Mountain Rescue said the incident is a reminder of the extreme care needed while out hiking.

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 Sligo and Leitrim Mountain Rescue were alerted by Gardai yesterday evening after a man was reported missing near to Benbulben mountain in North Sligo.  A search operation was launched with assistance from the Garda Air Support Unit.

A group of local people who had joined in the efforts, located the man at first light this morning. The 46-year-old was not injured but was taken to Sligo General Hospital for treatment.

Alan Sayers from Sligo/Leitrim Mountain Rescue said they were delighted to find the man safe and well and it was fortunate that the current weather conditions are so mild.

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For the first time, the service will have its own designated 4X4.  As a voluntary organisation Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team was not in a position to purchase their own vehicle. The National Parks and Wildlife Service based in Glenveagh in Co. Donegal, has stepped in and donated one from their fleet.

Sligo and Leitrim Mountain Rescue spokesperson Alan Sayers says the new addition will make a major difference when it comes to rescue operations, especially in adverse weather conditions.

The 2000 Nissan Pathfinder pickup is currently being kitted out and will be ready for service in the coming weeks.

Rescue of a young ewe that fell onto a small ledge near Glencar waterfall

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Seasonal mountain walkers are not necessarily the same as seasoned mountain walkers. Irish mountains are not high by international standards but they are challenging. People suffer serious injury and death in the hills of Ireland.

The Christmas holiday period is a time for leisure and recreation, including hill walking. It is a period where people often succumb to an “excess of zeal” and don’t plan properly. Failing to prepare adequately for your “adventures” is preparing to fail. Tragedy has occurred in the mountains of Ireland over the Christmas New Year period.

Before following your star into the hills over the coming weeks please reflect on these three wise things; all fundamental to a safe day in the hills – you, the weather and the terrain. When planning, remember that these factors are related and interconnected.

First consider the skills that you and your companions possess, it really all starts there. You should not venture into the mountains alone no matter how experienced you are. Food, drink, spare clothing, first aid kit, map and compass are all essential equipment. Navigating effectively in cloud requires knowledge and experience, built up over years. The inexperienced may have the “gadgets” but not the knowledge to use them effectively. Equipment will not make you physically fit; fitness is also built up incrementally over time. The stamina of the weakest member of the party should dictate the day’s plan or itinerary. Taking children into the high mountains in winter is not advisable.

The second and possibly most critical is the weather; it can quickly become your enemy. Listen to the forecast before making your plan, Irish weather is variable and unpredictable. Rain, wind, temperature and visibility are key considerations. As you go further up you get more rain and wind but less temperature and visibility. Low level routes are sufficiently challenging for most walkers in poor conditions. Don’t go too high or too far when poor weather is forecast; poor weather can kill you. Short days give insufficient contingency; minor mishaps escalate on a dark stormy evening. Don’t allow your enthusiasm outstrip your experience.

Thirdly and finally the terrain is a very important factor. Even in good conditions steep terrain can be too challenging to those not accustomed to it. Apart from rocky terrain, steep grassy slopes are treacherously slippery when wet.  The hills are very wet now and likely to remain so for months. The best boots won’t stop you from slipping and falling on steep wet ground. When the weather gets cold, that water becomes ice at altitude, increasing the dangers. Ben Bulben will still be there in the long, hopefully dryer, calmer days of summer. The marked trails and lower hills are a good initial preparation for the longer trips of spring.

Don’t make Christmas a sad anniversary for your loved ones.  Stay prepared, stay safe, stay happy.

Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team thank all those people who support them financially or otherwise, Have a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year holiday. If you do need assistance, rescue volunteers in your area, will be willingly there for you.  Do not stack the odds against yourself by being excessively zealous over short winter days.

Remember it’s about you, it’s about the weather and it’s about the terrain.