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2014-01-09 08:30:45
"Snow at the Sally Gap, Wicklow Mountains 2013" from simon3 Contract pics
Picture: Snow at the Sally Gap, Wicklow Mountains 2013 (Contract pics)

One Mountain Rescue team
At 11:30 am on the 6th of January 2013 the Dublin & Wicklow Mountain rescue team and the Red Cross Glen of Imaal Mountain rescue team were tasked to an incident in the Miners Village, Glendalough Co Wicklow. The call to a walker with head and neck injuries sustained in a fall would mark the beginning of what would be the busiest year on record for the team.

Heavy snowfalls in the early part of the year saw high levels of people, becoming stuck in heavy snow and icy conditions on the high passes in the hills. The Sally Gap and Wicklow Gap would become regular call out spots for the team rescuing those who had become stuck while traversing the Sally Gap or Wicklow Gap.

One such winter’s day saw the team responding to three separate callouts within a 5 hour period. These incidents involved calls for two injured walkers on Camaderry Mountain, two stranded coaches with over 80 people on board and finally two missing mountain bikers. These unusual weather conditions would see the team kept busy with snow and ice related work right up until the beginning of April.

The summer of 2013 will go down in many people’s memories as perhaps one of the best in a memory with consistent high temperatures and dry days. While many people chose to visit coastal areas during these warm dry days our uplands and valleys also saw their fair share of visitors with people choosing to get out and hike, bike and climb. With more people out than normal this kept the team busy during the summer months with rescues involving suspected spinal injuries from a mountain bike accident, a walker with a fractured upper arm on Djouce mountain and two technical rescues involving visitors from abroad in the Glendalough area.

The team would also see its members returning to Mayo, this time to assist in the search for a missing experienced climber on Mweelrea mountain. Eight members of DWMRT travelled to Delphi Adventure Centre on the evening of Thursday 31st October arriving in the early hours of Friday morning where they were briefed by Mayo Mountain Rescue at Rescue Base and tasked with a search area on the mountain. A further 14 DWMRT team members arrived at Delphi Adventure Centre to join the search on Saturday. As well as teams from around the island of Ireland mobilising to assist in the search, six members of Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team (CVSRT), whom the team are twinned with, travelled from Yorkshire on Saturday morning to join the search, highlighting the cross community support among teams in both Ireland and Britain.

With the return of the winter months there would be no let up in call outs for the team. Lugnaquilla Mountain is the highest mountain in Leinster and is situated in the heart of the county. It is this prominence which makes it such an attractive destination for hill walkers and climbers alike and as such makes it a regular destination for our team volunteers on call outs. As such it would prove fitting that in 2013, call out number 99 and 100 would take place on the same day and both on Lugnaquilla. The incidents both involved missing walkers who tuned up safe and well after the intervention of Mountain Rescue Personnel.

The year has seen the team and its member operating throughout the extensive area it covers from the Cooley mountains in the North right down as far as Lugnaquilla in the south. From time to time the team has deployed outside its area, such as searches in Mayo as well as assisting other teams in Wales while on training exercises. The team has maintained its position as an entirely volunteer based team with all members covering their own expenses while still being available on a 24 x 7 basis all while seeing funding being cut alongside other frontline services.

Commenting on the year past Chris England team leader of Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team said

“2013 has seen Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team face some extremes. Aside form the extreme late winter and the hot dry summer DWMRT have been called upon much more than ever before, with operations numbers in excess 100. This has put a much greater strain on our already limited financial resources. The very limited Government support has forced our team members, busy with rescues, to be busy with fundraising as well. In this regard I would like to thank all our supporters and sponsors for their invaluable support throughout the year. For 2014 we look to continue to provide a professional mountain rescue service in a year which will see us celebrate out 30th anniversary and one where we hope to find a team base. A base where we can train our members, store our equipment and call a home.”

Kind Regards,
Rita Darcy Secretary
Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team
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