If you spot a strange light darting over the golf course in Selkirk in the middle of the night, don’t be alarmed.
It’s just John Romanes’ dog Rauour (wearing an LED jacket) on his very own search and rescue mission.
John is a volunteer with Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team, and earlier that night, he will have been called out on assignment to help find a missing person, or someone lost or injured on the hills.
When John and Rauour get the call to help on a search, they’re straight out the door, and nine times out of ten play a vital part in the rescue operation, covering huge areas as a well-trained search and rescue partnership.
But every now and again, the search has already been called off by the time they get there. That doesn’t mean John gets to go straight home and back to bed – instead he swings back past the golf course, hiding scented toys around the 18 holes so Rauour can do the job he was promised. It’s all part of keeping the rescue dog happy so that next time he and John are called out, they can put their skills to the test for real.
Impromptu midnight dog runs are perhaps one of the lesser known activities Mountain Rescue volunteers get up to as part of their dedication to helping people!
The 44 volunteers that make up the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team are available any time, any day of the year, in all weather. They are called out not just to help find people lost or injured on the hills; they also help the emergency services search for vulnerable missing people in towns and across country.
We’re celebrating the work of Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team – and that of more than 1,000 volunteers with Scottish Mountain Rescue teams across the country – as part of this year’s Volunteers’ Week.
It’s work which takes commitment, dedication and nerve. The teams must keep a high level of physical fitness so they can reach people on the hills quickly, often while carrying heavy equipment or a stretcher. They need to be willing to ditch plans, families and friends at the drop of a hat to go on a callout, or leave their beds in the middle of the night with no idea of when they may be able to return.
As volunteers, it’s also a commitment the team members must fit around their work and family lives. The Tweed Valley team includes a vet, a nurse, council workers, emergency services personnel, retirees, a musician, an architect, and communications professionals – all of whom draw on the good will of understanding employers, not to mention patient and supportive family members.
As challenging as it is, it’s something the team members get huge satisfaction from. Being a Mountain Rescue volunteer often attracts people who are already keen hillwalkers or climbers, and it’s an opportunity for them to give something back to the outdoor community.
This Volunteers’ Week, St John Scotland wants to thank all the volunteers of Scottish Mountain Rescue teams, for their dedication to saving lives and helping people in need.
St John Scotland has long been a supporter of Scottish Mountain Rescue, and by 2020 will have donated more than £3.2 million in funding, largely for the provision of bases and vehicles.
Knowing the incredibly hard job these volunteers have, it’s something we’re proud to support to enable the teams to carry out their life-saving work.
You can find out more about volunteering with Scottish Mountain Rescue by contacting the individual teams through the SMR website.
Picture credits: Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team