Mountain Rescue teams in some parts of the UK are more likely to see their local air ambulance respond to incidents than have the RAF Search and Rescue attend in their Sea King helicopter. In Cumbria, Snowdonia and Scotland the RAF Search and Rescue team provide a vital quick service to aid Mountain Rescue teams in getting casualties off the hill quickly.
As a member of the Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team, in West Yorkshire, we rarely see the RAF Sea King helicopter. Our incidents are just not in very remote locations which are far from a road or track accessible by vehicle. When we are lucky enough to not have to carry a casualty off the hill we’re more likely to see the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
Despite that our annual training with the RAF is an exercise which is looked forward to by the team. Even if for the last 3 years they have been unable to join us due to low flying hours, or real incidents to attend to. So this year we went to their based at Leconfield instead.
After a morning briefing, we went out in 3 groups for a flight to practice being lowered in the strops and using the high line to prevent a stretcher from spinning whilst being raised by the winch.
Whatever your political views are of replacing the RAF Search and Rescue teams with private companies, it will certainly be a great loss to not see the Sea King helicopters providing their reassuring rescue service any more.