Name change of Mountain Rescue Team meeting uphill resistance

Concerns surrounding the name change of a mountain rescue service based in Northern Ireland continues to cause significant concerns and worry for another mountain rescue service, also based in Northern Ireland.

Report by Emergency Times
A mountain rescue team based in Derry, previously known as the North West Mountain Rescue Team (NWMRT), has expanded its operational cover from the North West region to include some Central and Eastern areas of Northern Ireland, excluding the Mourne Mountain areas. Recently, through the charity regulator, the NWMRT changed its name to the Northern Ireland Mountain Rescue Team (NIMRT).

This name change is causing concern and confusion among another mountain rescue service in Northern Ireland as it may be misconstrued that the former North West MRT now covers the whole of Northern Ireland, when in fact it doesn’t.

The well-established Mourne Mountain Rescue Team (MMRT), which is concerned about the name change, continues to cover the Mournes, Croob and Gullion mountainous regions and are perhaps the busiest mountain rescue team on the Island of Ireland.

Photo: Via Mourne Mountain Rescue Team Facebook page

MMRT have said “Our primary concern is that it could be perceived that such an entity covers all of Northern Ireland including the Mournes and has even replaced the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team. This is not the case.”

There are also other implications of a North West based service purporting to cover the whole of North Ireland, such as the very real risk of confusion in tasking the relevant team in an emergency situation, leading to delays in response, in addition to a negative impact on fundraising to support the sustainability and capacity of the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team, who have been operational since 1962.

Although the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team are the primary rescue cover for the high Mournes and hinterlands including the hills of Croob and Gullion, and are still being alerted thought he PSNI Command and Control Centre when a call is received, according to the MMRT, some of these concerns have already been justified with several examples of confusion even at this early stage, and they feel it essential to assure the public that there has been absolutely no change to rescue cover for the Mournes.

MMRT have said it raised numerous concerns with the newly named NIMRT, but to no avail.

The NIMRT held a recruitment campaign last year in search for volunteers for their new operational areas of Central (Sperrins), West (Fermanagh) and East (Belfast) section teams. Lynn Lusty, an active member of newly named NIMRT, told MyDerry in a previous statement: “We are all volunteers and we are on the lookout now for new members to join us this year. They are people who join every year but sometimes their situations change and they can no longer commit to the schedule that is needed at our team. That’s why we do a recruitment drive year, just so we can have the required number of volunteers in case something happens.”

She added; “And when people join up they will get all of the training that they need as a probationer for around a year-and-a-half. Prospective members will complete an intense induction program to learn the core skills of mountain rescue.”

Teams train once every two weeks in the evenings and usually on a Saturday or Sunday once a month.

The Mourne Mountain Rescue Team have received widespread support in relation to their concerns.

In highlighting these concerns, they have raised the matter with Mountain Rescue Ireland (MRI), the all-island umbrella body for Mountain Rescue, also with the Northern Ireland Search And Rescue (NISAR) body, the official Department of Justice panel for recognised Voluntary Search And Rescue assets and concerns have also being raised with the Charities Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI), who provide the governance for Charities including matters pertaining to names and this is ongoing. MMRT acknowledge the ongoing commitment of the operational membership of the North West Mountain Rescue Team and are confident their concerns and objections are shared within the operational membership. The Mourne Mountain Rescue Team will continue to have a working relationship with Northern Ireland Mountain Rescue Team and hope their endeavors and concerns are heard and acted on accordingly.