2024CALLOUTS 13
2023: 51 Callouts | 2022: 61 Callouts
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Women In Mountain Rescue

International Women’s Day – 8th March 2024

The role of women in mountain rescue is significant and multifaceted, mirroring their contributions in various emergency services and outdoor activities. While historically dominated by men, the presence and participation of women in mountain rescue teams have grown steadily over the years. Here are several key aspects of their role: 

  1. Operational Duties: Women in mountain rescue teams perform the same operational duties as their male counterparts. This includes responding to emergency calls, acting as incident leads, party leaders, conducting search and rescue operations in rugged terrain, providing medical assistance to injured hikers or climbers, and assisting in evacuations. 
  1. Technical Skills: Many women in mountain rescue teams possess advanced technical skills such as technical rope rescue, water rescue, navigation, and advanced level outdoor first aid. These skills are essential for safely accessing and extricating individuals in distress in upland and mountainous environments. 
  1. Leadership Roles: Women also hold leadership positions within mountain rescue teams, serving as team leaders, coordinators, trainers, and administrators. Their leadership ensures effective teamwork, decision-making, and coordination during rescue operations. 
  1. Representation and Diversity: The presence of women in mountain rescue teams promotes diversity and inclusivity within their respective teams. Their participation challenges traditional gender norms and stereotypes, inspiring other women and girls to pursue careers or hobbies in outdoor and emergency services. 
  1. Community Engagement: Women in mountain rescue often play a crucial role in community outreach and education initiatives. They contribute to workshops, seminars, or training programs aimed at promoting outdoor safety, wilderness survival skills, and responsible recreational practices.

History

The history of women in mountain rescue in the UK is a story of perseverance, dedication, and breaking down gender barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields. While the exact timeline may vary depending on specific regions and teams, here is a general overview: 

  1. Early Years: Mountain rescue in the UK primarily emerged during the early to mid-20th century, with the formation of volunteer teams in mountainous regions such as the Lake District, Snowdonia, and the Scottish Highlands. During this period, mountain rescue was largely male dominated, reflecting broader societal attitudes towards gender roles.  
  1. First Female Members: The inclusion of women in mountain rescue teams began to gain traction in the latter half of the 20th century. While exact dates may vary, records indicate that some teams started accepting female members during the 1970s and 1980s. Mollie Porter became the first team leader of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team – the first woman to take charge of a mountain rescue team in Scotland and it is believed in the UK as a whole. These pioneering women often faced scepticism and resistance but proved their capabilities through their dedication and skills. Yet, despite the passage of more than 50 years, very few women have followed in her footsteps.  
  1. Trailblazers and Role Models: As more women joined mountain rescue teams, they became trailblazers and role models for future generations. Their presence challenged stereotypes and paved the way for greater inclusivity and diversity within these organizations. 
  1. Recognition and Integration: Over time, the contributions of women in mountain rescue became increasingly recognized and valued. Women demonstrated proficiency in essential skills such as navigation, first aid, technical rope work, and casualty care, earning respect from their male colleagues and the broader outdoor community. 
  1. Leadership and Advocacy: Many women in mountain rescue rose to leadership positions within their teams, serving as team leaders, trainers, and committee members. They advocated for gender equality, access to training opportunities, and recognition of women’s contributions in rescue operations and outdoor activities. 
  1. Modern Era: In the contemporary UK mountain rescue landscape, women continue to play integral roles in rescue teams nationwide. Their presence is not only acknowledged but celebrated, as teams strive to foster inclusivity and diversity while upholding the highest standards of professionalism and service.  In recognition Mountain Rescue England and Wales established the Women in Mountain Rescue group to develop greater awareness of EDI across teams. 

Overall, the history of women in mountain rescue in the UK reflects a journey of progress, from early challenges and resistance to acceptance, recognition, and leadership. Their contributions have enriched the fabric of mountain rescue teams and reaffirmed the principle that skill, dedication, and passion for the outdoors know no gender boundaries. 

Cleveland Mountain Rescue 

Currently, Cleveland Mountain Rescue has thirteen women across the roles of search & rescue and support & fundraising.  We have an EDI lead, and the team is committed to supporting equality, diversity and inclusion.  Women who volunteer within the team come from diverse backgrounds, experience, ages and heritages.

Support Team Members 

Jo – Committee Member: Support & Fundraising 

Kath – Support Team member 

Search and Rescue Team Members 

Jenny – Land Liaison, EDI Lead, Tech 5 Trainer 

Alison – Committee Member: Treasurer. Deputy Team Leader, Deputy Callout Officer 

Rachael – Committee Member: Secretary. Deputy Callout Officer, Deputy Team Leader 

Sarah D – Mental Health Lead. Water & Flood Rescue Team (First Responder)

Nicky – Team Member. Water & Flood Rescue Team (First Responder)

Carolyn – Team Member 

Sarah R – Probationer 

Corinna – Probationer 

Josie – Probationer 

Diane – Probationer 

Ania – Probationer 

Profiles 

Carolyn 

My first experience of Mountain Rescue was when Wasdale MRT helped rescue my friend after a climbing accident – she eventually lost her leg, but I was impressed by the efforts of the Team to help her. A few years later I was able to join Cleveland MRT when I moved north to join my partner who was already a Team Member – I have been an active member of the Team for 26 years. 

For most of my time I have just been an active Team Member although living close to the base I regularly help with the deployment of vehicles and equipment, act as Co-driver in one of the response Land Rovers and acting as Base Person at the RV. My biggest contribution was supporting my husband as the Base Manager for 12 years both with the major refurbishment of the base and with the day-to-day cleaning, maintenance and security. 

I enjoy the satisfaction of being able to help other people in their time of need, of making a contribution to the local community and the teamwork which under pins every rescue or incident. 

Jenny 

I am an academic researcher and senior lecturer at York St John University.   

I joined because I have been rescued (twice) by teams including my own and because my husband is long standing S&R team member.  I wanted to give something back, learn new skills and help others feel safe and enjoy our wonderful moorland and rural areas. I hold leads roles in technical rescue, EDI and land liaison and I love it! 

Nicky 

My day job is as a Senior Clinical Advisor (Nurse) Ambulance service. I joined the team in 2019 to help people having one of their worst days out on the hill. I was inspired to join as I had close links as a trail runner and so admired the team’s hard work and commitment.  

I have undergone specialist training as a ‘first responder’ in the Water & Flood Rescue Team.  Overall I love being part of the team, we all bring various skills and experiences. It’s a privilege to wear the red jacket. 

Kath 

I’m Kath and in my day job  I am a nurse practitioner. Soon to retire!

I joined the team’s support group in 2017. I knew I was never fit enough to join in a S&R capacity. 
My role is fundraising and PR mainly. However, since joining the team I have been trained as an equipment checker.  We also help with recruitment events. 

My experience in the team is all positive. Always included as part of the bigger team and not just the support group. I’ve met many people that I probably would never have met had I not come into this field. 
I enjoy being part of the team and helping with training. 

Alison 

I am a Grant and Contracts Manager within the research department of a local NHS mental health Trust. I joined the team in 2017, my husband has been a member for over 20 years and once our two boys were old enough to be abandoned at short notice, I decided I wanted to join. 

Being part of the team has pushed me to do things I never would have done and exposed me to situations I’ve never come across before. I’ve learned so many new skills and these benefit me in ‘normal’ life too. 

It’s not glamorous, it’s very often cold, wet, muddy and dark but the feeling of helping someone in difficulty makes it all worthwhile. I am currently treasurer for the team, a deputy team leader and deputy callout officer. 

Jo 

I retired early after 23 years as a teacher and wanted to do something worthwhile with my newly found free time and give something back to the community and area where I live.  I volunteer for three very different organisations, one of which is Cleveland MRT.   

Although I am a keen walker, love being in the outdoors and really enjoy helping people, I didn’t want to join the S&R Team. I am a huge admirer of the amazing things the S&R Team do, but it’s not my idea of fun. When I saw an advert inviting volunteers to form a new Support Team for Cleveland MRT, I was keen to join.  I thought it would be a good chance to use some of my transferable teaching skills, learn some new skills, meet lots of new people and find out more about what my husband does as an S&R team member. 

I became a Support Team member in 2017 and since then have been involved with fundraising in its many forms and in all weathers, PR activities, staffing the Team’s merchandise stall and operating its online shop, banking and managing the administration of donation recognition, recording and accounting systems and Gift Aid.  In 2022 I became a Trustee of Cleveland MRT and now lead our amazing Support & Fundraising Team.  It is great, and very important to me, that our Support Team has become an integral part of the whole team, and I am proud to wear the red jacket. 

Join the team

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.

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