No challenge too high or deep for Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team - our fourth emergency service
A vital, often quite literally life-saving charity, has called on the public's support to help it continue to help people across Lancashire.
The Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team, which since 2013 has had its headquarters in Burnley, is staffed completely by specialist volunteers who stand ready to be called out 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Formed in 1963 as the Rossendale Fell Rescue, the group later went on to become part of the National Mountain Rescue Organisation, and now has a base in Clegg Street, Haslingden, and its flagship base at Farrington Court, Burnley.
Composed of 35 active team members, some of whom are serving emergency services personnel, the group is regularly called out to incidents across Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale that could include anything from water rescues to falls in quarries and emergencies on hill tops.
Secretary and publicity officer for the team, Andy Bradshaw, looked back on a busy Easter weekened and said the group has always played a vital role in assisting emergency services.
Two falls on Pendle Hill, an accident in a Haslingden quarry and moor fires over Bacup ensure the team was kept on its toes.
He said: "We are contacted through the 999 system when people ring the emergency services because we have the equipment and skills to rescue people who have come into trouble on difficult, often inaccessible terrain.
"This might include water, rock faces or anywhere that requires specialist stretcher capabilities. Although we are all vounteers, training to become part of the team is a serious business and takes around two years.
"The culmination of becoming what we call a red jacket is a proud moment. Among the group we have different specialities including a 'hazardous area response team', an idea which was developed after the London bomb attacks when the Government realised they needed teams of specialist paramedics who could work in dangerous environments.
"We are very lucky to have one of these specialists in our team in the form of Pete Goble. We also have serving firemen and police officers among our volunteers. That experience gives us a unique insight into the situations we find ourselves in."
Training underpins everything the team does and has helped it build a reputation as one of the best mountain rescue teams in the country. The team's weekly training sessions as opposed to the usual monthly for other groups is testament to that.
The group also has a water rescue team, which includes 15 trained individuals who can conduct water searches by jumping into flooded areas.
Andy added: "We train heavily with other services. I think this has helped us build our great reputation. We also have a very unique form of casualty carers who can deal with serious trauma including open fractures.
"These kind of carers can also administer morphine when not all ambulance crews can. Peter Durst, on our team, is one such carer. He is revered across the country and was one of the first dog handlers to attend the scene of the Lockerbie disaster."
For all the human expertise among the team, they would not be able to do their job without the specialist equipment needed to operate in tricky terrains.
The team has two Hilux 4x4s, two off-road buggies, a Mercedes Sprinter van, which operates as a control vehicle and mobile map room, as well as specialist medical equipment, stretchers, winches, ropes, harnesses and water equipment such as dry suits and inflatables.
Andy explained how a change in the Government's funding priorities in recent years had meant grants had dried up and that the Government now orientates more towards poverty, drugs and community wellbeing.
As such, the group has set up a text donation system which allows anyone texting RPMRT to 70085 can automatically donate £3 or more if they wish.
The team has a very strong partnership with Pickup Systems in Burnley, which helps to develop bespoke emergency vehicles for the group, but it will soon have to replace one of its Hilux vehicles.
Andy said: "Any little helps, it really does. We are now looking for a business to potentially sponsor us for a year."
Anyone wishing to do so can email Andy on [email protected]