Search is over as mountain rescue team finds new base
FOR almost 30 years they had emergency rescue meetings in front sitting rooms and stored climbing equipment in sheds.
But one of the country's busiest mountain rescue teams is getting a new home.
The Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue Team turned the sod on its new base at the Wicklow Mountains National Park yesterday with a planned opening date of a year from now.
It will come as a relief to the 34-strong team who, for the past few decades, have had to make do with co-ordinating rescue missions from 4x4 vehicles on windswept mountain tracks.
The new rescue base will provide secure indoor parking and storage for all emergency vehicles and equipment. It will also have an operations room from where members will plan and oversee major call-outs and training facilities where the team can practise life-saving skills.
The base will be located close to Glendalough where up to 40pc of mountain rescue emergencies occur each year.
Hugh McLindon, spokesman for the team, said the current set-up is far from ideal. "Essentially it's like you call 999 and the fire brigade pulls their engines out of the back yard and the firemen get their helmets out of the attic," he explained.
The new base is expected to cost up to €400,000.
However Mr McLindon admitted that they are taking a "leap of faith financially" as construction will get under way without all the funding being in place. "We have a grant for the first phase, but we'll need another grant for the second phase," he added.
For more information see www.wicklowmountainrescue.ie.