‘Get serious’: Kerry Mountain Rescue Team called out once a day, on average

Team often assisting people with life-changing injuries at Carrauntoohil

Kerry Mountain Rescue Team assisting a member of the public at Carrauntoohil. Photograph: KMRT

Kerry Mountain Rescue Team assisting a member of the public at Carrauntoohil. Photograph: KMRT

 

Kerry Mountain Rescue Team has said it is getting called out on average once a day, as walkers and mountain climbers underestimate the challenge of Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil.

In the first 16 days of this month the rescue team, who are all volunteers, were called out to the mountain 16 times. This was followed by three more call outs in the last four days, until Friday lunchtime.

“Visitors might be down in Killarney and they look up and think it would be a nice walk,” says team public relations officer Colm Burke. “But it is not a walk in the park and people are underestimating the amount of fitness and equipment they should have.”

In the first 16 days of this month the rescue team were called out to the mountain 16 times. Photograph: KMRT
In the first 16 days of this month the rescue team were called out to the mountain 16 times. Photograph: KMRT

Asserting that it was time for potential walkers and climbers “to get serious” the team released details of its August call outs, which included “serious, potentially life-changing injuries”.

Among the preventable injuries were two dislocated shoulders; a broken shoulder; broken ribs; two broken pelvises; two broken legs; six broken ankles; two knee injuries; and two head injuries.

Of the three subsequent call outs over the past four days including Friday, two were high up on Carrauntoohil and involved head and other serious injuries.

Long, exhausting stretcher carries were necessary to get the injured back down the mountain safely, the team said.

Carrauntoohil is ‘not a walk in the park,’ said Kerry Mountain Rescue Team. Photograph: KMRT
Carrauntoohil is ‘not a walk in the park,’ said Kerry Mountain Rescue Team. Photograph: KMRT

Being called on successive days places a huge strain on volunteers, who are committed to their role but who must juggle day jobs and family commitments as well.

Volunteers are “increasingly exhausted and worn down by sequential call outs” but are loathe to judge the walkers and climbers for sequential errors that underlie serious accidents.

“Carrauntoohil is not a walk in the park but is frequently approached as such – with serious consequences. It is not a way-marked trail,” Mr Burke said.

To some degree mobile phones have undermined what the team saw as the old “self-reliance ethic, that once underpinned mountaineering”.

Saying it was “time to get serious” the team called for people to:
– Wear proper boots, not runners ;
– Take time to consult the weather forecast in advance;
– Research the intended route and the difficulties involved;
– Carry a map and to know how to use it;
– Have windproof, waterproof layers;
– Decide on the fitness of all in the group and know when to turn for home.

It will and does go wrong for the best-prepared but the ill-prepared will always
disproportionately feature, Mr Burke said.

In a statement the mountain rescue team said: “when it goes wrong you will wait possibly two hours before assistance reaches you. Add possibly three hours or more for stretcher evacuation. KMRT fully understand that accidents can happen to anyone on the hills at any time.”

However the organisation reiterated that if people get into difficult the team will be there for them. Anyone in difficulty should not hesitate to call 999 or 112 and ask for Mountain Rescue.