THE Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team was called into action last Friday night to search for two men missing in the Ruberslaw area.
This was only one of several incidents where volunteers have helped Teries in trouble since the onset of the snow - from helping the local ambulance service deal with a cardiac emergency and a broken arm, to transporting patients requiring urgent dialysis treatement and carers to clients in remote areas.
Team leader Steve Penny commented: “TVMRT exists not only to assist those who get into difficulties in the hills, but also to support the communities in the Borders whenever the skills of the team can be brought to bear.”
It was at around 9pm last Friday when local police paged the team with a report of two men, aged 24 and 22, who had disappeared onto Ruberslaw, near Bonchester Bridge, and equipment belonging to them found.
A total of 23 volunteers, a search dog as well as two 4x4 ambulances and a control vehicle were mobilised in response to the emergency call, with two relatives of the missing men who had headed onto the hill to look for them also considered as missing.
Luckily, while in the initial stages of the search, all four people were reported as returning home safe and well.
But Mr Penny says it serves as a warning to anyone heading for the hills.
“Whilst the snow brings an added incentive for people to head to the hills, it is important to remember that walking in deep snow is much more time consuming and uses a lot more energy than a summer walk”, said the team leader. “In these conditions sub-zero temperatures are not uncommon; couple that with short daylight hours and it’s easy for people venturing onto the hills to get caught out. I’d like to remind those heading for the hills to make sure that they are properly equipped for the conditions with warm clothes, torches, food and drink.”
From the first heavy snowfall two weeks ago when the team was called to provide emergency cover in Hawick with a 4x4 Land Rover ambulance, they have received a steady stream of calls for assistance also in support of NHS Borders, Scottish Borders Council social services and the police.
Mr Penny paid tribute to the commitment of his fellow volunteers, and added: “For over 40 years we have relied heavily on local communities to provide both members for the team and support through donations. Times such as this period of severe weather give the team the chance to give something back.”