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Team Leader's Report 2017

Running to Stand Still

It doesn't quite feel like a year has passed since I last sat down to write the previous annual report. That's either a reflection of me getting older or the busy modern lifestyle that most of us are caught up in. The challenge of balancing family and Team life is ever present for most if not all Team members but credit to them and their loved ones for continuing to keep Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team operational.

Human

In terms of callouts, 2017 was certainly a mixed bag. The year started with a winters callout to the area of Broad Cairn for a pair of missing walkers. February saw us almost going into the Garbh Corrie bothie to retrieve an avalanched climber; thankfully Rescue 951 was able to achieve this. It was with bated breath we stood by until we heard that 951 was in the air again and on its way to the hospital. (Team numbers were low due to a mix of half the Team being away training in the west and those who were in the area had been watching the 6 Nations). April saw a small party go to the aid of an injured mountain biker on Pitfichie. June had us deployed to support Braemar and Cairngorm MRTs during a technical rescue at the Shelterstone. They had plenty numbers at that point and there was a potential second incident developing, so the guys supported appropriately.  July saw the Team supporting the Police in a search for a Missing Person around the Beach Links. October saw us turning out to attend a shout where a walker had become unwell near the Sappers Bothy; the Team had just completed its First Aid re-certification weekend, in the end we didn't deploy but the Team Doctors were on hand to give the casualty the once over at the landing site once 951 had delivered him back. October, we returned to a rather windy Broad Cairn for a missing party of 3 plus their 3 dogs. As we were en-route 3 of our Team witnessed a Road Traffic accident and tended that until Emergency services could get there. Interestingly, polarisation of a compass played a big factor during this particular incident and in November we also returned to Pitfichie to assist another injured mountain biker, who despite quite a sore injury was in remarkably good spirits..

Although not our busiest of years there was variety in type to keep the Team on its toes.

No Sleep Til Brooklyn

The ongoing baby boom continues in the Team with the safe arrivals of Babies Munro, Burr and Doig (the latter officially being a 2018 baby, but close enough). Perhaps the Team are taking my chats about 'future proofing the Team' a bit too literally.

Congratulations to Audrey who has taken on the herculean task of turning Kerr into a responsible adult by marrying him. (Take note Jamie and Naomi).

We said Nos vemos luego to Billy and Claire who set off for Spain to teach English; Billy assures us that the political unrest in Spain at the time was purely coincidental. (The Team Christmas meal wasn't quite the same without Billy the younger).

Cardiac Ceilidh

Team life continues to be busy between callouts, training, public events and safety talks. We get requests on a weekly basis to attend an event or give a talk and although we try to accommodate as much as possible, sometimes we will have to say no. You will see later on in the newsletter the breadth of audiences and events we attend and although there is the safety message to our talks we also try to have a bit of fun especially with the more junior crowd. Sirens, lights and seeing how many we can fit into a group shelter always raise some smiles.

2017 saw us send more Team members on a level 1 AAA course run by the Avalanche Geeks in Aviemore. Mike tailors the course for an MRT perspective and in 2018 there will be 10 of us attending the level 2. Thanks to Cairngorm Mountain for sorting us access on the funicular.

Di Gilbert ran another brilliant MIC weekend for us; this gives Team members the chance to be students with external outdoors professionals. No matter your experience, there is always something to be learned. We had 3 Team members attend a LANTRA off-road course and their next step is to attend the 4x4 emergency services instructor course in 2018. In addition, we had Team members attending national SMR courses.

Team members participated in the Strathpuffer, the 50th anniversary OMM, LAMM, GL3D, Tour of the Highlands & the Illuminator. We missed out on the Highland cross this year due to a mistake on our part but we'll be back for 2019.

In terms of recruitment, we took on 3 probationers at the end of summer and we currently have some potential recruits in waiting. Unfortunately, not everyone who applies is for us or indeed are we for them. We do have to be clear in our expectations and I do believe as long as we are honest and respectful with each other, any disappointment can be managed. Ultimately there are lots of different ways to support the Team, not only on the hill.  The balance is to ensure potential recruits don't dry up or lose interest as there is a limited number we can manage. Like fundraising, recruitment is continuous.

The Red and the Black

I would like to thank a few folks; so here goes. Families and loved ones, as ever without your support it doesn't work. Dawn and Anne for organising a brilliant Ceilidh, Malcolm for keeping our accounts in order and representing us at the local St John meetings, all our support members for their continued support through the year. St John Scotland for their continued support. Claire and Keith for the excellent support to Naomi and Ali in getting us ready for the First aid re-certification and the Casualty Care Assessments. All the guest instructors and guest casualties at the First Aid weekend. And of course, the Team members themselves for their ongoing commitment, professionalism and passion.

2018 started for the Team with a callout on New Year's Day and as I write this the Team have already been involved in further significant incidents. This winter we have had brilliant blue bird days followed by the unusual (or usual) Scottish phenomena 'Turbo Thaw'. As I come to closing this report the country has been hit hard by the Beast from the East. Winter is not over and there is a good amount of snow to go out and enjoy.

Before heading out, let someone know your plans and your back up plans. I know it may seem a pain, but it can make a huge difference to MRTs in the event of an accident. Monitor the weather, we do this continually through the winter, so we can build up a picture. You don't have to go that far, but there are a lot of very good sources of information. SAIS, MWIS to name but two. Be wary of online advice that can be found on social media platforms. Just because 'Uncle Jimmy got lucky when he went up Ben Macdui in winter one year with nae crumpons or axe' does not make for safe advice. Carry the appropriate kit and clothing and make sure you eat and drink properly. Know or learn how to navigate in winter using a map & compass. If you can, invest in a GPS and carry spare batteries as you would with your headtorch. As for smart phones, think of how you can manage the battery life. There's no doubt that the Mapping software is good, but in winter your smart phone will die in minutes if used as a navigation aid. (A few of our Team members tried an experiment by navigating off a top using a phone. The battery lasted less than 5 minutes.)

A Winter can offer up some amazing experiences in the mountains if you respect them. Be safe and have fun. What are you waiting for?

Scott Stevens

Team Leader