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Mountain Rescue


About this book:

  • ISBN: 9781904524397 (paperback)

  • Published 2005

  • Price £20.00 + postage

  • 264 pages

  • Illustrated with colour photographs, plus maps and drawings

About the Book:
MOUNTAIN rescue in the United Kingdom is a voluntary service. Mountain rescue team members are 'on call' through the 999 system 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They are as likely to leave a warm bed in the wee small hours to rescue an injured climber on some blizzard-blown crag, as hunt the grounds of your local nursing home in search of someone's missing granny. They're a dedicated bunch. And dare we say it, a breed of their own.

Mountain Rescue takes a look at the service in its entirety, from a brief history of its raw beginnings through to the present day, exploring the rich diversity of calls on its time and the people involved.

About the Authors:

BOB SHARP has been involved in Scottish mountain rescue for almost 30 years and has attended around 250 rescues during this period. He is team leader of the Lomond MRT, which operates in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park in Central Scotland. At national level, he is Vice Chair and former secretary to the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland. In a wider context he has served on the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Scottish Mountain Leader Training Board and the Scottish Mountain Safety Forum.
In his professional capacity, Bob is a Reader in Sport Studies at Strathclyde University with specialist interests in research methods and skill psychology. He is an active climber, qualified mountain leader and 'Munroist'. In 2009 Bob Sharp was awarded the Distinguished Service Award for his services to Mountain Rescue.

JUDY WHITESIDE has been involved at local, regional and national level of mountain rescue for six years. A non-operational team member, she is secretary of the Rossendale & Pendle MRT, based in Lancashire and edits Mountain Rescue, the quarterly magazine of the Mountain Rescue Council of England and Wales. In her professional life, Judy is a freelance art director/copywriter and illustrator with 30 years experience in advertising and marketing. She is a keen walker and skier.


'Sharp and Whiteside, have gone for straight completeness, telling the story 'from the inside out', explaining how the service in the UK is organised, how it is trained, the wide variety of call-outs, the hardships, risk and subtle rewards. Rescuers, casualties and family members all have their say. 'When that bloody bleeper goes off - so does he!' tells of another dinner gone cold.

'Both the authors speak from experience - Sharp is team leader of the Lomond MRT and a veteran of some 250 rescues - and have clearly taken great pains to present an accurate, readable and well-illustrated account of the UK service. When the pager bleeps, off they go, not knowing for how long or at what cost. Why? A challenge, an adrenalin high, a chance to test one's mettle, banter and camaraderie; all play their part. The common thread is a willingness to help others, often fellow climbers or walkers.' Stephen Goodwin, Alpine Journal, 2006

'A well illustrated and thoughtful book that should be of interest to a wide range of readers. At the very least, it should be in every team library.' Dr Anthony Jones MBE.

'Mountain rescue is as misunderstood as its title is anomalous. It's not all about ropes and snow nor are mountains rescued! The authors, in distinctive chatty style, have corrected those and many other misunderstandings. All the drama, commitment, pathos and humour which define this voluntary organisation dedicated to the service of others are revealed in this one volume. Enthralling stuff.' Alfie Ingram. Chairman MRC of Scotland.

'This book will confirm to the public that mountain rescue in the UK is made up of unpaid volunteers with numerous talents to offer. In today's self centred society, I am still amazed by the dedication and selflessness of team members and their families when their loved ones vanish off into the night on a call out. There are numerous tales of rescue and lots of information for even the most experienced mountaineer or walker.
Without doubt a recommended read to all outdoor lovers.'
David 'Heavy' Whalley MBE BEM.

The highs and lows of mountain rescue
Over the Christmas holiday I became engrossed in a book - Mountain Rescue by Bob Sharp and Judy Whiteside. As I turned the pages, I felt the tension of searching in a whiteout for a casualty, the drama of a successful rescue and the desolation of arriving too late to save a life.
A mixture of facts and unputdownable anecdotes, the book is written by two people with a long-term involvement in mountain rescue. Bob Sharp is team leader of Lomond Mountain Rescue Team and vice-chair of the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland. He has attended around 250 rescues over a period of 30 years.
Judy Whiteside is secretary of the Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team and edits the mountain rescue magazine of England and Wales.
Mountain Rescue is not a textbook, but is designed to be read from cover to cover, drawing its readers on through interesting stories. Nevertheless, anyone who does read it will come away with a thorough and up to date understanding of the workings of mountain rescue in Britain...
Throughout the style is informal and chatty. Whether describing the rescue of cliff-bound sheep or the carnage of Lockerbie, the tone is that of a one-to-one conversation. People, and their hopes and fears, are the focus throughout...
In the preface, Bob and Judy say: 'With luck, we'll answer all the questions you ever wanted to ask about mountain rescue and then some. No stone unturned. It's an absorbing story about how people react when the chips are down. And one we hope will leave you confident in the knowledge that if you're ever caught out in the mountains and need assistance, help will be on hand from a group of willing volunteers who show resolve, professionalism, kindness and compassion.'
That is certainly what they do, in a book that alternately had me smiling and in tears. It's humbling to read that even the most experienced and best equipped mountaineers can suffer misfortune, but comforting to know that there are people such as this to come to their aid.
Perthshire Advertiser, January 2006

'Deep down I will always be proud that he's so dedicated. I know he would move heaven and earth for his family. It's just that when that bloody bleeper goes off, so does he...'
Ever had to explain what you do as a mountain rescue team member and why? Of course you have. A certain TV drama didn't give quite the picture you wished to convey? Of course it didn't. Perhaps in future you should consider pointing your inquisitors in the direction of Mountain Rescue. The authors declared aim is to give you a complete and accurate picture about what we do, who we are, how we train, the risks we encounter and how we are organised. And, yes, we will inject some of the gory details... Yet there is no attempt to sensationalise what goes on as the authors are both involved in mountain rescue. And, presumably aware that such a book is never going to rival Harry Potter for sales, the authors have sensibly aimed it at the widest possible readership, so MT team members, fell walkers and climbers, and members of the general public will all find plenty to interest them in this book. It has history, drama, humour, human interest, helicopters, statistics, dogs but, thankfully, no sex in equipment rooms (à la Rock Face). Interspersed throughout the book are well-presented accounts of rescues and searches together with contributions from rescuers, casualties and families.
A word of warning, though. If you do recommend it to friends (or even, who knows, give it to them as a Christmas present), bear in mind that your stories of derring-do equipped only with the finest state-of-the-art clothing, radios and torches will make you seem a bit soft compared with some of our forerunners: 'Each of the party was equipped with a pork pie and a hurricane lamp. Johnstone lost the former and broke the latter when he fell down a steep slope in the pitch darkness.' Recommended.
Les Telford, writing in Mintcake, December 2005

'A number of books about mountain rescue have appeared over the years. Some have been readable but ill informed and others have been informed but hard to digest. This book is a pleasure to read and yet contains a wealth of accurate information. The authors have carefully avoided the temptation to sensationalise mountain rescue without diminishing the quality and commitment of the service. The quality of presentation is excellent. This book will be read and appreciated by those within and without mountain rescue.' David Allan FRCS. Chairman, Mountain Rescue Council (England & Wales).

'It's been two years in the making but Mountain Rescue finally hits the bookshelves in November. And it's truly a combined effort by the authors - co-written and co-ilustrated by Bob Sharp and Judy Whiteside, designed by Judy - and helped along by some stunning mountain imagery. Thanks go to the many within - and without - mountain rescue who have contributed with factual information, stories, expertise, opinion and photographs. And, of course, to Hamish MacInnes for his foreword.

The aim was to produce a book which talks not just to mountain rescuers but to a wider readership. Its 256 full colour pages cover just about anything you might ever want to know about mountain rescue - from humble beginnings in ramshackle huts and postal call outs, to the high tech emergency resource it is today. History, training, equipment, medical, search dogs, technical rescues, search strategy, the military connection... It's all here, interwoven throughout with the personal experiences, in their own words, from both rescuers and the rescued. There's tragedy, joy, pain, frustration and humour - just an average 'day in the life' really. Mountain Rescue magazine, October 2005

'An exciting and superbly illustrated new book on mountain rescue... an excellent book. In some senses, it's a great handbook for mountain rescue teams. But its appeal is much wider than that. For instance, anyone into climbing or fell-walking will find it a useful guide as well as a good read. But it will also be an attractive investment for armchair adventurers.
The book has a foreword by one of the legendary names of both mountaineering and rescue - Hamish MacInnes... The whole thing is a fascinating record with some wonderful photography and graphic illustrations - and it is a great read to boot.'
Leader Times Newspapers, December 2005


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