The Mourne Mountain Rescue Team works together with many different statutory agencies when the team is operational on a call out. Our primary response area covers the Mourne Mountains, extending to Slieve Croob, Slieve Gullion and into the South of Ireland to the Cooley Mountains in Co. Louth.
On a number of callouts throughout the year the team is tasked to assist other Mountain Rescue teams in Ireland to supply additional resources including personnel, equipment and other support as required. One event in the Mountain Rescue Calendar when all the mountain rescue teams in Ireland come together is to provide rescue cover for Croagh Patrick (Mayo) on Reek Sunday, where up to 30,000 pilgrim’s will summit the mountain. The majority of the 12 Mountain Rescue Teams in Ireland will be in attendance at this major event.
The primary tasking agency for mountain rescue in Northern Ireland is the Police Service of Northern Ireland. When a person dials 999 and requests help from a mountain rescue team, their call is routed through to Belfast Regional Control and the PSNI SAR Team will then notify the appropriate Mountain Rescue team that covers the area in which a response is required. The PSNI can work in conjunction with the team to supply logistical support and if required members of the PSNI Mountain Rescue Team will respond to assist with the operation. The PSNI will appoint a POLSA (Police Search Advisor) to liaise with the Mountain Rescue Team Co-Ordinators if required.
All mountain rescue teams work closely with members of the Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) an on occasions the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). As part of the remit of the Irish Coast Guard (South of Ireland), they provide a search and rescue helicopter service. There are four bases in Ireland and these are located at Sligo, Shannon, Waterford and the helicopter we request to assist our team is located at the SAR base at Dublin Airport. Their call-sign when on emergency operations is Rescue 116.
When members of the mountain rescue team arrive they are just another part of a chain in the delivery of pre-hospital emergency care. When mountain rescue gets you down off the mountain we hand you into the expert hands of the NIAS (Northern Ireland Ambulance Service) to continue your journey to hospital for any further treatment if necessary. A new resource available to mountain rescue teams in Northern Ireland is ‘HART’ (Hazardous Area Response Team). The Hazardous Area Response Team initiative seeks to provide medical care to patients in hazardous or ‘Hot’ environment. A HART paramedic is tasked along with a Mountain Rescue Team by the PSNI at the outset of an incident.