In 2020, Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team identified the need to plan for the replacement of their waterproof jackets and trousers. Since then, as well as regularly being worn in bad weather, Team members have also had to wear their jackets as a PPE barrier layer when dealing with all casualties as a COVID-19 protection measure. This has led to far more frequent washing and decontamination of clothing, which has accelerated the wear on some of the older jackets.
To cover the cost of providing each Search & Rescue member with a waterproof jacket and pair of trousers of sufficiently high quality to enable them to operate in extreme mountain rescue conditions, the Team launched a project to fund the significant replacement costs involved.
Last year Team members trialled jackets from different brands which, supplemented by their experience over many years of wearing outdoor clothing, helped to inform their choice. They also obtained sample clothing from various manufacturers, culminating in a range of jackets and trousers from five different brands being made available for final evaluation. At the end of that evaluation period Helly Hansen was the clear, preferred choice of the Team.
The Team had previously just missed out on being chosen by Helly Hansen to be one of two mountain rescue teams from England & Wales to partner with the manufacturer in the development of professional grade clothing for search and rescue teams. All mountain rescue teams had been given the opportunity to apply for a three-year partnership award with Helly Hansen which would see their entire team kitted out in Helly Hansen clothing, without having to raise the funds to pay for the kit. The Cleveland team finished in the ‘top four’ in England & Wales which was a great achievement in itself.
The experience gained during that process provided Team members with a great insight into the quality of the Helly Hansen products. So when it later came to the decision on which of the five brands to select, the Team was very confident in its choice.
Helly Hansen’s Search and Rescue Account Executive, James Millett, said:
‘Professionals that work and live in the world’s harshest environments have always been at the heart of the brand. The insights drawn from these professionals have enabled Helly Hansen to produce professional grade clothing that helps people stay and feel alive. The Mountain Rescue partnership application process gave us valuable feedback from teams across England and Wales which further supports our work in this area. We recognise that a tremendous amount of time and effort was put into the second stage of the application process, and we are incredibly thankful to all teams that made a submission, including Cleveland MRT’.
Cleveland MRT has now received 48 sets of Helly Hansen ’Squad’ jackets and ‘Action’ trousers (which together form a waterproof outer layer) with base layers and insulation layers to follow. The Cleveland team’s leader, Peter Smith, added: ‘We need high performance clothing to help us work safely at all times. We expect our new kit from Helly Hansen will do this for many years and have been impressed by their efforts to engage MR teams in product development’.
Local organisations and businesses were asked to contribute to the project costs and have together donated almost £9,000. Some of this was in the form of grants from the Arnold Clark Community Fund (£1,000), Persimmon Community Champions (£1,000), Two Ridings Community Foundation (£2,000), Sofia Construction Community Fund (£1,000) and Services Support (Cleveland) Ltd Veracity Group (£3,000).
Cleveland Cable donated another £500 which was supplemented by regular contributions from the Hardmoors Ultra Runners who agreed that donations from their entry fees since 2021 would help to fund the costs. The remaining costs will be covered from Team funds which are of course derived from donations made by members of the public and other organisations so, in effect, all of the clothing will have been provided by the local community.
Applications can be made to join the team in a support role (Operational Support) or as a hill going (Search and Rescue) member.
Applications for either role can be made at any time. Intakes for Operational Support members occur at various times of the year. There is one annual intake for Search and Rescue normally each September.Join Now