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Busiest year on record for Mournes Mountain Rescue Team volunteers

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The past year has been the busiest ever for the Mournes Mountain Rescue Team - with the lifesaving volunteer group warning people to make sure they do not take unnecessary risks

The past year has been the busiest ever for the Mournes Mountain Rescue Team - with the lifesaving volunteer group warning people to make sure they do not take unnecessary risks

PA

The past year has been the busiest ever for the Mournes Mountain Rescue Team - with the lifesaving volunteer group warning people to make sure they do not take unnecessary risks

The past year has been the busiest ever for the Mournes Mountain Rescue Team - with the lifesaving volunteer group warning people to make sure they do not take unnecessary risks.

Co-ordinator Neville Watson told the Belfast Telegraph that the Covid lockdowns had played a part in increasing the attractiveness of the Mournes as they attended more than 60 call-outs in the past year.

Earlier this week they attended five incidents on the same day.

"The outdoors are becoming increasingly popular as a way for people to exercise and to get a bit of freedom," he said.

"With Covid - and with other forms of exercise not being available - we've certainly seen a very significant increase in the numbers of people using the Mournes and the general area for leisure purposes.

"That's understandable, given that there are a lot of conventional sporting activities that haven't been available to people."

But that does have some downsides, Mr Watson said on Friday night.

"There will be some people who have less experience, and less of an understanding about possible risks. Even just the sheer numbers means that the more people there are, the more likely it is that a proportion of those people will get into difficulties," he said.

"2020 was our busiest year in the history of the team, and that reflects the big increase in the numbers using the Mournes for recreation, exercise and so on.

"We had more than 60 call-outs, which is significant.

There are around 30 active members of the Mournes Mountain Rescue Team - and a typical response to an incident means at least half of them may be needed.

"It depends on the nature of the incident," Mr Watson said. "You don't always need a full-scale response. But if somebody needs carried, you need more to take that on.

"We're entirely made up of volunteers," he said.

Their mantra is: plan carefully; be prepared; and stay safe.

"Be sure you've told people where you are going, check the weather, ensure your phone is charged," Mr Watson said.

"There's nothing wrong with a sense of adventure - but be sure you aren't taking risks you cannot handle - especially in the winter conditions we have at present."

Belfast Telegraph


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