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.
Snow and ice would not be the only reason for call outs for the team. During the later spring months as the weather returned to more normal conditions the team responded to multiple call outs, including a cardiac arrest on the Spinc in Glendalough, a walker with a suspected lower leg fracture on the Sugar Loaf, a female tourist who had become stuck on the Glenmacnass waterfall and a man who had become stuck while out climbing on a crag in Glendalough.
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.
These call outs, amongst others, such as search operations, missing walkers and the annual trip to Mayo to assist Mayo Mountain Rescue with Reek Sunday would see the entirely volunteer based team busy right into the autumn months.
Along with its more normal operations, autumn saw the team involved in a major operation in Wicklow. Three experienced climbers had become involved in an incident while out climbing on Luggala. The extent and complexity of this call out required both the Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue team and the Red Cross Glen of Imaal Mountain rescue team to utilise a great depth of resources and technical rope rescue skills among team members. The job began at 17:24 and would not finish till 01:45 the following morning and involved the technical rescue of all three climbers with one being air lifted to hospital, one being assisted off the hill by mountain rescue personnel and the final climber being stretchered off the hill by mountain rescue teams.
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.”
The Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team would like to thank the following for their assistance over the past year
- Glen of Imaal Red Cross Mountain Rescue Team
- Coast Guard Helicopter
- HSE Ambulance Services
- An Garda Siochana
- Defence Forces
- Civil Defence
- National Parks
- And all other supporters of the team who have provided donations to facilitate the ongoing work of the team