Calling all outdoor types and would-be heroes


VOLUNTEERS AT WORK Mayo Mountain Rescue and the Coast Guard helicopter get ready to airlift a casulty off Croagh Patrick during this year’s pilgrimage back in June. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

It is a sunny afternoon. Three kids are bouncing happily on a trampoline with their Dad. The boisterous laughter is gradually replaced by the sound of an approaching helicopter.  Instead of squeals of delight the group falls silent … listening… waiting. Sure enough, the tell-tale ringtone chirps from the phone on the bench. The youngest one starts to cry.  Dad has to go… again.
It’s Friday evening. The weather is fine. The barbecue is lit. The grass is cut. There is beer in the fridge. The in-laws are coming over for the first time since lockdown began. Then, the tell-tale ringtone chirps on the phone and in an instant all the plans for the evening vaporise.
It’s been a long and busy day. The Zooms call did not finish until after 6pm, leaving less time than normal for the routine mayhem of homework, dinner, rowdy games, pyjamas, Weetabix, brushing teeth and bedtime stories. It’s almost midnight by the time everything is squared away. You’re ready for bed. Then you hear it – the tell-tale ringtone on your phone, for the third time this week…
Another callout.
And this is just the callouts. It does not include the frequent training sessions, fundraising events, team meetings, committee meetings, subcommittee meetings etc … that are required to operate a competent mountain rescue team.
So why would anybody volunteer to do this? By their very nature, voluntary organisations attract people who are drawn to making a positive contribution to their community. If you also feel drawn in this way, then working with a committed team of likeminded people can enrich your life in a most wholesome way. This is common to all voluntary organisations. You work hard and you make sacrifices, but the impact of your efforts are clear. You earn the respect of your community and experience the elusive ‘sense of purpose’ that many seek.
Mountain Rescue is no different. We are motivated by the respect and admiration given to our team, and by the sense of purpose that membership provides, but there are many other rewards. 
When people are lost in the mountains, get stuck on cliffs/steep ground, or suffer an injury/medical emergency in a remote area, they call us for help. We must have the skills and training to respond appropriately. Many of these skills could not be learned, or would not have any value in any other context. 
For example, a competent mountaineer should be able to navigate in any weather and at night, but as a competent mountaineer they should not be caught out at night in the first place. This means that unless something has gone wrong, they will never have the opportunity to test their skills for real. 
As a rescue team member, these skills and many more are regularly tested in very real and often life-threatening situations. And the beauty of it is, that as a team, we rise to the occasion. By working together we are able to make a real difference – to help people genuinely in need and to save lives. This does not mean that every callout has a happy outcome. They do not. We have to deal with tragedy also, and this can be tough, but even in these unfortunate cases our contribution is appreciated.
Of course there are many other benefits.  Being part of the team is a great motivation to look after your health and get plenty of exercise – after all, you don’t want to let down your team when they are counting on you. Also, many of us feel a sense of solidarity with other people who share our spirit of adventure and have suffered some mishaps, but the real reward is the sense of pride that comes with being a part of the team.

If you are interested in joining, we are accepting applications for new probationary members until Friday, November 12. For more information, please check our website at