The mountain and cave rescue service in the UK is the responsibility of the police, under their obligation to ‘protect life and property’. Teams – and the Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA) – are called out through the 999 system, and work with the police, ambulance or fire service according to the nature of the incident. They frequently work with the RAF Search & Rescue (RAF SAR) and increasingly with the various air ambulances. Incidents on sea cliffs are coordinated by HM Coastguard although in some areas joint arrangements are in place.
Teams are gathered into eight regional organisations according to their geographical area of operation. These, in turn, are members of Mountain Rescue England and Wales, the national coordinating body for mountain rescue in England and Wales alongside the British Cave Rescue Council, the NSARDA, the Association of Chief Police Officers, HM Coastguard, RAF SAR, Ofcom, the Fire Service Inspectorate, The Sports Council and the Association of Chief Ambulance Officers.
A voluntary body, and a registered charity in its own right, its main function is to liaise on behalf of the teams with the various government departments in the running of mountain and cave rescue. Various items of equipment such as stretchers, ropes and first aid equipment, are provided from the national purse, along with public liability insurance and accident insurance for team members when they are training or operational. In Scotland, this role is played by the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland.
We also publish a range of useful statistical and research material and our recently relaunched handbook, ‘Call Out Mountain Rescue. A Pocket Guide to Safety on the Hill’, aimed at promoting safety awareness in the mountains and moorlands.