The Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team, as with all MR teams in England and Wales, is a 100% volunteer-run charity, which exists primarily to save life and limb in upland areas of our region. The unique skills, techniques and equipment developed for the moors and crags, however, are equally transferrable to more low-laying areas... and the team now frequently finds itself called to assist the public across West Yorkshire. From barren moorland, to rolling farmland, woods, parks and even urban areas, the team assists the police with missing person searches and supports the ambulance service with difficult-access casualties, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The team was called 78 times in 2018 - our busiest year ever.
A vital link in our chain...
To carry out the work we do, the team has over 40 on-call volunteers, thousands of items of equipment, and - ordinarily - three emergency vehicles: two 4x4 response vehicles and an Incident Control van.
The Control van provides a vital link in supporting the majority of our operations; providing a space and facilities for controllers to coordinate a search or rescue effort, wherever it happens to be. Vital communications equipment and IT infrastructure are required for us to manage operations efficiently and liaise with our partners in the police and ambulance service effectively. The van provides a hub for these, as well as carrying much-needed welfare facilities to support our volunteers in between taskings when they return to control.
So, what's the problem?
In summer 2018, our control van was involved in a minor accident. Thankfully no-one was hurt - but when the damage to the vehicle was assessed, it was very quickly discovered that what we thought was relatively minor damage was going to cost an arm and a leg to repair.
What, to us, was a purpose-built and kitted control van with huge intrinsic value, as far as the insurance company was concerned, was just a 16 year old white panel van. They wrote it off without hesitation, paying out the "market value" - just over £2,000.
Wanting to do anything we could to avoid major expense to the team, we looked into independent repair costs - but soon came to the same conclusion that spending thousands of pounds keeping an aged vehicle on the road just wasn't a sensible or justifiable use of charitable funds. So, we reluctantly stripped our equipment out and waved goodbye while our faithful old van was carted away on a lorry.
...and the solution?
The team is now looking to fundraise to put a brand new, purpose built vehicle back into service. We are seeing this unfortunate incident as a great opportunity to design and build, from scratch, a vehicle that precisely suits our needs. We have looked at this from every angle, chatted to suppliers, fitters and converters and have consulted with other teams who have run similar projects. We have learned what didn't work for us in the past and remembered what did. This is an opportunity to create a vehicle that will allow us to manage operations more effectively, respond better, work slicker... and ultimately help to make a difference to more peoples' lives, well into the future.
- A 4x4 chassis will allow us to get the vehicle wherever it is needed.
- State-of-the-art digital communications kit will keep us working together and help us monitor progress of operations in real time
- Advanced power systems will help us keep running for longer
- Stretcher-carrying facilities will enable us to transport patients safely
- Built-in welfare facilities will keep our team members working more effectively for longer.
We have costed up the project, lined up a vehicle, spoken to the converters... all we need now is your help to get us the £60,000 we need to get started. Every penny will help us get there.
Many thanks to Roger at fatmustardfilms.com for creating our promo video.