The Glen of Imaal Red Cross Mountain Rescue Team celebrated their 25th anniversary in the Glendalough Hotel on Friday evening, (21/11/08). Ireland’s busiest Mountain Rescue team not only marked their long service to the people and visitors of County Wicklow, but also officially launched their project to build the first Mountain Rescue base on the East Coast of Ireland.
Ironically, even during their preparations for this event, we were called out to aid a stricken hill-walker who had become crag-bound (stuck on the cliffs) above St. Kevin’s Bed on The Spink in Glendalough. A swift response ensured that the man was on a rope, ready to be abseiled down the cliff within 30 minutes of making his 999 call for Mountain Rescue.
The team was formed in February 1983 by local people with a strong connection to the mountains after a number of incidents including a fatality had occurred in quick succession. Early in its’ history, we became a Red Cross unit and has continued this bond over the years.
Since its’ formation the team has developed and evolved to become specialised in all aspects of Search & Rescue in a mountainous environment: Search Management, Technical Rescue (Cliffs & Steep ground), Swift Water Rescue and Emergency Medical First Responders. We can operate in the most extreme weather conditions, in the most remote locations and at any time of day or night.
We have been involved in an estimated 1,200 call-outs over our 25 years in existence, averaging almost 1 call-out per week. Couple that with weekly training, add on team meetings, fundraising activities and you get the idea of the type of commitment team members have. Most amazing of all is that these team members don’t receive a cent for their time. They are not on retainers, they operate on a wholly voluntary basis.
The team has longed dreamed of having somewhere to call home, a dedicated facility to maintain expensive equipment, garage vehicle and meeting/training facilities. Planning permission was granted earlier this year for a building on the outskirts of Laragh. The building will have a strong emphasise on the environment and blend into its’ surrounding.
Friday night saw over 130 people pack into the hotel function room to browse over photos and press clippings from over the years, look at equipment and talk to some of the members. There was standing room only as Ian McKeever, who holds the World Record for completing the 7 Summits Challenge in 155 days regaled the crowd with tales of his exploits in a motivating and entertaining presentation. People also heard from Team Leader, Ann Fitzpatrick about the working of the Team and our new base plans.
The Glen Team have been providing an amazing service to walkers, mountaineers, foresters, farmers, tourists etc. for many years, now we need your help!
If you can think you can help in any way- no matter how small please get in contact with us:
by email at goimrtsecretary(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)eircom.net, by text on 087 6347286 or through our website www.wicklowmountainrescue.ie