Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team Home at last

HVMRT Vehicle Bay courtesy of HVMRTHolme Valley Mountain Rescue Team completed its purchase of Marsden Fire Station building, securing its first permanent HQ in 50 years.

After a concerted fundraising effort, Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team is delighted to announce that it has completed the purchase of Marsden's former Fire Station building as its headquarters.

The acquisition of the building marks a major milestone in the history of the team - providing the vital life-saving organisation with the first permanent headquarters in its history.

This achievement also coincides with a major anniversary year - 2015 marks 50 years since the team was founded, following a tragic incident in which two boy scouts sadly lost their lives whilst taking part in a challenge hike on the moors.

The volunteer-based team now responds to an average of 25 to 30 incidents a year, assisting those injured or in difficulty on the moors and crags, searching for missing persons, evacuating casualties from difficult-to-access locations and providing a vital lifeline to the ambulance service during harsh winter conditions.

The team is also an important part of the local civil contingency plans for major incidents and emergency planning.

Although it is primarily concerned with upland and rural areas, the team's operational boundary covers the southern half of West Yorkshire - an area of over 1,000 square kilometres - including diverse geography ranging in altitude from 7m to 580m above sea level.

It is not uncommon for the team to be called in for searches closer to the area's metropolitan centres of Leeds, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Dewsbury Pontefract and Castleford, providing vital assistance and expertise to West Yorkshire Police.

Owen Phillips, an Assistant Leader of the Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team said: "As the team's role has developed over the years, we have acquired more and more specialist rescue equipment, and having a dedicated building with facilities to store and maintain this equipment is vital.

"We also garage and maintain two emergency vehicles which are kept in a state of constant readiness and require extensive facilities to train our members and keep everyone up to speed with the technicalities of rescue, casualty care and the use of specialist equipment and medical supplies.

HVMRT Control Room courtesy of HVMRT"The former Fire Station building at Marsden is perfectly suited to the job, having good road access close to the moors, space for training, dedicated vehicle bays and plenty of space for kit-storage."

The team formerly leased a small portion of the building, but when plans were announced to close the fire station due to cutbacks, they began negotiations with the Fire Authority to purchase the whole building outright.

A deal was struck allowing a deposit to be paid in June 2013, and permitting the team to take up residence in the full building immediately upon the departure of the Fire Service.

The agreement then allowed the remainder of the balance to be paid within two years, sparking a major fundraising effort by the team.

By mid-December 2014, the target was met and the building officially transferred into the hands of the Mountain Rescue Team.

The former Fire Station has been reconfigured to the team's requirements, providing facilities such as a control room for planning managing incidents, gear storage facilities, a drying room, a kitchen, toilets and a training room with AV facilities, as well as dedicated vehicle bays.

The team would like to extend their gratitude to the generosity of the public and local companies and organisations for their kind donations and help with fundraising, however they are conscious of the new responsibility of maintaining a building:

Mr Phillips commented; "Obviously it's fantastic news that we've finally met our target and have given the team a new home for years to come, but in terms of fundraising we're not out of the woods yet.

"Now we have to maintain a building on top of the team's normal day-to-day running costs, so it's vital we keep up the fundraising effort.

"Insurance costs, increased utility bills and the maintenance and security of the building now need to be added to the costs of maintaining and replacing equipment, upkeep of vehicles and the other costs we need to meet to keep the team running.

"We work on an annual budget of £20,000, and the team receives no official funding from Government - all of this money has to be raised by the hard work of our own members, and the generosity of the public and other organisations who recognise our cause."

Members of the Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team are all unpaid volunteers who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and dedicate many hours of their time to training and fundraising on top of their normal day-jobs.

Team members also purchase the majority of their own equipment and claim no reimbursement for fuel or mileage costs when responding to incidents.

To help with the continuing fundraising effort, Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team organises various events throughout the year. 2015 brings a busy schedule of events in celebration of the team's Golden Jubilee.

The calendar will feature a Ceilidh in March and a new Mountain Biking event in July - together with the annual Seven Summits Challenge - an indoor sponsored climbing event - which this year will take place in March, and the Rescue Ramble challenge walk - a fixture in September.

Members of the public are invited to participate in these events to help raise funds for the team and details will be released on the team's website and social media channels throughout the year.

The Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team will host an official opening event for the new headquarters building in April.

Find more information on Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team at www.holmevalleymrt.org.uk or follow the team on twitter: @HVMRT or Facebook: www.facebook.com/hvmrt

MR Team's Landrover Lucky Escape

Central Breacons LandroverFour Mountain Rescuers had a lucky escape on Saturday night when their Landrover tipped over whilst responding to a call out for a man unable to extricate himself from the Brecon Beacons.

The Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team website describes the events;

"As most team members were sitting down to have their dinner that night the pagers went off for a call out for a man unable to extricate himself off the Brecon Beacons. As the call out proceeded with members from our team, Search Dogs, Brecon and Western Beacons, one of our vehicles was despatched for a task and on its way it slipped due to the icy road conditions and tipped over onto its side with 4 mountain rescue personnel (3 men and 1 woman) inside.

In the dark conditions they helped each other to get out of the vehicle through the drivers door. Feeling a bit battered and bruised and with the help from Western Beacons who came to our aid we were able to recover all of the mountain rescue equipment from our vehicle which was now lying on its side blocking the road. The Police then closed the road as there was no way any other vehicle could pass.

Back on the mountain side members of the search parties and a search dog closed into where the missing person was and after hot drinks and some snacks he was able to walk off the mountain side accompanied by mountain rescue personnel. Everyone was stood down and we had to leave our hard working but now very lonely Echo Landrover on a high point of the Brecon Beacons."

The team have now started a campaign to replace their Landrover. Anyone wishing to donate can do so on the website www.cbmrt.org.uk/fundraising.html

​Teesdale & Weardale Search & Mountain Rescue Team's Chief Constable's Commendation

Teesdale & Weardale Search & Mountain Rescue Team receive Chief Constable's CommendationTeesdale & Weardale Search & Mountain Rescue Team (TWSMRT) were presented with a Chief Constable’s commendation from Durham’s Chief Constable, Mike Barton, yesterday at a ceremony held at Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland, recognising their efforts in helping to save a woman’s life.


On 20th August last year, police and 17 members of TWSMRT along with 2 dogs were alerted by a call from the woman’s partner who was concerned about the safety of 35 year old Kelly Weelands from Stanley.


A joint search operation between the police and TWSMRT was launched with a specially trained mountain rescue air scenting dog used by TWSMRT to help find Kelly.


After a police search through the day and into the evening, at various locations across the Consett and Stanley area, the TWSMRT were deployed.  After a short search Misty the air scenting collie and her handler Des Toward discovered Kelly lying in a densely wooded area to the rear of Oakies Park in Stanley, away from any paths or tracks with life threatening injuries.


One of the members of the TWSMRT team was a doctor and helped to treat Kelly whist they waited for the ambulance crew to arrive.  Kelly was swiftly taken to the University Hospital of North Durham where she was treated and went on to make a full recovery.


Chief Constable Mike Barton said: “I have great pleasure in presenting the Chief Constable’s Commendation to Teesdale & Weardale Search & Mountain Rescue Team and to Misty, the dog of course.  I’ve no doubt their swift actions on that day last August saved Kelly’s life.  Their support to the police operation to find Kelly was absolutely invaluable and they should take great pride in the pivotal role they have played in helping Kelly to move forward with her life.  They are true heroes.”



Lake District MRTs Search Efforts on Helvellyn

Picture courtesy of Patterdale MRTOn Sunday 11th January 2015 Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team were called by Cumbria Police to assist in the search for a male who was reported missing, possibly on Helvellyn.

The man, from the South of England, was staying at a hotel in the Windermere area and had indicated that he intended to walk up Helvellyn on Thursday 8th January. The last known contact was around lunchtime that day but he was not reported missing until the weekend when he failed to check out of his hotel.

Based on the information available, and in darkness, strong winds and heavy rain Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team began to coordinate a search of the main areas on the Helvellyn range. They called for the assistance of other rescue teams: RAF Leeming; Penrith; and the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs. Between approximately 1700 and 2300 forty-nine mountain rescuers and five search dogs and handlers were involved. Just before midnight the search was postponed with a plan to resume at first light as a severe weather warning was in force and visibility was worsening during the early hours of Monday.

At 0730 on Monday the following teams joined the search: Keswick; RAF Leeming; Penrith; Kirkby Stephen; and five dogs from the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dog Association and a further three from the Search and Rescue Dog Association (England). A Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from Gannet, Prestwick joined search efforts and airlifted equipment to the mountain.

By 1030, a search dog found a man on the headwall of Helvellyn at the same time as an RAF team spotted the man from above. Within minutes the team were on scene. However, sadly the man had sustained serious injuries and was later pronounced dead at Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team base. During the second day of searching sixty-two mountain rescuers were involved for almost eight hours.

Mike Blakey, Patterdale MRT Team Leader said: 'In these tragic circumstances the thoughts of all those involved in the man's rescue are with his family and friends. I would like to thank all of our colleagues in the other mountain rescue teams, mountain rescue search dog handlers, the police and the Royal Navy Sea King Crew who did everything they could to assist in finding this man quickly.'

'Rescues like this always involve an element of risk. During the night and this morning, in the heavy winds, two search dog handlers sustained minor injuries. We wish them a speedy recovery.'

Search Dog Flash to the Rescue

Members of MRT waiting on radio message - Edale Search Jan 2015 courtesy of Buxton MRTSearch Dog Flash and handler John Coombs from Edale MRT located a lost walker near to the head of Blackden Brook on Sunday as part of a response of Four Peak District mountain rescue teams and four Search & Rescue dogs.

The weather throughout Sunday had been relatively mild but light snow from Saturday was still lying in gullies and strong winds and heavy showers throughout the day made for difficult walking conditions.

Teams were alerted about 18.00 hours when the walker reported himself lost and each team rendezvoused at its own chosen location. The teams have a pre-planned system for searching Kinder which involves Buxton, Glossop, Kinder and Edale mountain rescue teams dividing the moor in to quarters. Buxton M.R.T's usual search area is the south-west corner taking in the edge path between Grindsbrook and Swinesback rising up to the watersheds around Crowden Head.

Buxton MRT had twenty-two members committed to the search when Search Dog Flash with handler John Coombs from Edale MRT located the man near to the head of Blackden Brook on the northern edge of the moor. The man was unharmed and was escorted back to Edale village. Buxton team stood down at 20.30 hours.


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