MRT Funding in Scotland
Let's start this on a depressing note: there is no official funding for Scotland's Mountain Rescue Teams. Read on to find out how you can help.
Mountain Rescue in Scotland is carried out on a voluntary basis by members of the various mountain rescue teams. Each of the teams is based in a particular area, and has, in principle a specific area within which it is available to help. In practice the teams cooperate considerably and these boundaries are very flexible.
The teams do not only carry out the rescue of mountaineers. Their work is probably better described as "rescue where mountaineering skills are useful". Examples of this would include rescuing motorists stranded in snow or more recently searching for pilots of "downed aircraft" in the mountains.
So what funding is there?
Well, there's charity. Much of the time this charity is actually thanks in the form of a donation from someone a team has rescued, or from their family/friends.
There's also Team Member Fundraising - many teams organise annual events in order to raise some well deserved funds. I know that Lochaber MRT have an annual Bed Race in Glen Nevis and Braemar MRT organise an annual walk / race up Lochnagar. But this is not enough!
What about the Police Force
Well, each MRT responds to requests for assistance from their local Police force and in recognition of this the Police forces do try to help the teams by buying them equipment. Teams like Lomond MRT are lucky - they have said that Strathclyde Police Force are often able to supply mot of whatever kit they request on an annual basis, but we have to remember that Strathclyde Police Force is the largest force in Scotland.
Conversely, the Police Forces which rely on the highest number of Mountain Rescue Teams have the smallest funding & the busiest MRT's. Consequently the Teams in Highland/Grampian areas receive the least financial support from the Police force.
With this in mind it's not surprising that Teams like Glencoe, Lochaber or Cairngorm are crying out for donations. Remeber, they might save your life one day.
- To stay in existence?
Glencoe MRT say that is costs about £28,000 "just to stand still". This might seem like a lot of money but anyone who has ever rock climbed knows how much technical equipment costs and they know how quickly it has to be replaced. Specialist items such as stretchers, avalanche tranceivers, a LandRover to transport the kit, winches, ropes, medical supplies, training... The list really is endless.
- To improve?
Why improve you might ask - our MR Teams are already brilliant, aren't they? Well, yes, they are. But if you or I were buried under an avalanche and there was a piece of equipment, or computer software or transportation that could get them to us just 5 minutes sooner everyone knows we'd all want them to have it. And be experts at using it. And all this costs? Money they don't have.
- What can I do?
Well, "anything you can" is the short answer. If you don't feel you can afford to make a monetary donation, fear not. You could:
- Organise a fundraising event and donate the proceeds. (Abseil off a building? Dress down day at work? A slide show or a lecture? - do you know anyone you can talk into helping? Do the west-highland way and get sponsorship/take a collecting tin.)
- Generally raise awareness - given any opportunity, tell people about the MRT's in Scotland.
- Make a "Practical Donation" - computer equipment (talk the college into donating older kit?) or even time? Phone the Team Leader and ask what you can do to help.
When I have the information on how you can make donations to the Teams I'll include it here. Some teams have their own websites which have this information but most Teams cannot yet afford that.