A new Search and Rescue team will provide emergency help to walkers and climbers in the Western Isles. The newly-formed Hebrides Search and Rescue has now been officially recognised by the Mountain Rescue Council of Scotland. The 18 strong team are based in Stornoway but will cover the whole of the Outer Hebrides and are equipped with two landrovers and have the use of a rescue boat. All the team members are keen hillwalkers, with three qualified medics, as well as a number of members who have been involved in mountain rescue elsewhere in mainland UK.
John Norfolk, founder and manager of the team, said that there had been talk for over 20 years of forming a team but it had only been in the last 3 years that the necessary organisation, fundraising and volunteers had come together to make it possible, describing the formation of the team as a “hard slog”.
The Outer Hebrides are becoming increasingly popular amongst walkers and climbers. In recent years TV programmes such as ‘Monty Halls Hebridean Adventure’, ‘Coast’, ‘Countryfile’ and ‘The Big Climb’ as well as cheaper ferries have added to the islands’ popularity.
Up until recently walkers and climbers who got into trouble had to rely on the Stornoway Coastguard, RAF helicopter rescue service based at Lossiemouth or Mountain Rescue Teams based on Skye or in Kintail and Torridon. The new team will assist the Police in search and rescue operations and as a secondary role will assist the emergency services during Major Incidents. The Team will also help the wider community during severe disruptive weather events and emergencies.
Walkers or climbers needing assistance should phone 999 for the Police and then request mountain rescue. More details on the Hebrides Search and Rescue Team including how to donate can be found at the team’s website.