FAITHFUL FRIEND: In April the Rotary Club of Alnwick learned about the Northumberland Mountain Rescue Team in a talk from Brandy Wilson and his endearing companion Jock, a Border Collie.
The Rescue Team was established in the 1960s and provides an irreplaceable service that now extends to urban areas supporting the police in the search for missing vulnerable persons. The service they provide is invaluable, particularly to the hill-walker and climber but also to the wider community.
Currently the team comprises some forty volunteers trained to deal with a variety of emergency situations from floods to aeroplane crashes, and at any one time there are about thirty five people with pagers available for call-out. Brandy explained how each volunteer had a speciality: navigation, first aid, the ability to coordinate operations with police, RAF helicopters and others.
There are six dogs and handlers in the Team, and Brandy described how, in a search and rescue situation, one well trained dog can do the work of 20 people.
Most call-outs are for people becoming lost or suffering injuries while walking in the National Park area.
The handlers have to pay all the expenses for their dogs, but are helped considerably by the local vets.
Also the organisation raises money with sponsored walks and other activities because the Team costs about £20,000 per year, excluding the expenses of the volunteers.