Extremely busy period for mountain rescue team

Stephen Fernane

Kerry Mountain Rescue Team members are in the middle of one of the busiest periods they have ever faced on the peaks, as people take to the high reaches in great numbers and often without being properly prepared.

The unit was called out ten times in the past four weeks - with four of these within the past week alone. KMRT say the callouts involved parties who were ill-prepared and ill-equipped for their adventure into the mountains. 

But the situations could have proved much worse had the stricken climbers not made the sensible decision to phone for help. 

'Make sure you are prepared' was the urgent message from PRO of the Kerry Mountain Rescue Team (KMRT) Alan Wallace this week. 

"Certainly the last four weeks have been exceptionally busy. We're not trying to discourage people from going on the hills as it is fantastic, but if you are thinking about going make sure you are prepared or that someone in your party can navigate," Alan said.

The callouts varied in nature from fall injuries and medical emergencies, to disorientated walkers in need of assistance on the descent. Five of the callouts required help from the Coastguard helicopter. 

"The biggest risk is people not being able to navigate. The trails aren't always obvious and what has happened is that people have gone off track and ended up in some very steep ground. We've been fortunate that people in these situations have stopped and called us as the consequences are potentially very serious," Mr Wallace said. 

He also asked that people ensure they are sufficiently experienced, prepared, and equipped for hikes or climbs they are planning and to be aware that the mountains of the southwest should not be underestimated in any weather.

"Spending six or seven hours hillwalking is very strenuous in extremely high temperatures. You need lots of water and sun cream. 

"Even good footwear is essential as we've noticed people wearing runners, which are not good on the way down due to slippery conditions. It's important to be aware of what you're doing and to respect your surrounds," Mr Wallace added.