Mountain rescue crews work around the clock
Treacherous roads and mountains of snow made for a challenging week for the dedicated members of Wicklow's two mountain rescue teams as they worked around the clock to assist the HSE and the Gardaí with their duties.
Both the Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue and Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team have been on duty since the cold weather began, working alongside the National Ambulance Service, An Garda Siochana and Civil Defence to carry out a range of duties.
'We are still dealing with calls and up to 20 of our volunteers have been working 24/7, going to as many callouts as possible, most of which were requested by the HSE. At the moment, we still have crews on standby,' said Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue crew member and Rathdrum Garda Shane Barker on Monday.
Shane explained that the majority of callouts were for the HSE for patient evacuations where 4X4 vehicles were required.
'Where we haven't been able to access patients by vehicle we have gone in on foot and used a stretcher-capable four wheel drive vehicle. We have just been going wherever the HSE needs us, mostly in cut-off and remote areas.
'West Wicklow areas like Dunlavin and Hollywood have been particularly badly hit and we have had callouts in Tallaght and Stepaside - basically wherever could only be accessed by four-wheel drive. In many cases, the volunteers used their own private vehicles out of necessity to link up with the service and go out on calls,' he said.
It has been all hands on deck, with the volunteers working as much as possible over the past week while balancing day jobs and personal lives.
Shane said that they have received great support from communities and on Sunday, they even called on the services of a local farmer in Hollywood to tow the mountain rescue vehicle out of the snow.
'We got the vehicle out and the patient was taken to hospital so it all worked out in the end. Overall, 99.9 per cent of people have been very careful and have heeded the weather warnings. There will always be a very small percentage who think that they will never get stuck but, on the whole, this time people took the advice given to them,' he said.