State-of-the-art radios donated to Assynt mountain rescuers
Get the Courier and Groat sent to your inbox every week and swipe through an exact replica of the day's newspaper
Mountain rescuers have been given a Christmas present which will help save lives in the north Highlands.
Thirty-seven state-of-the-art radios worth in the region of £30,000 were donated to Assynt Mountain Rescue Team (MRT).
It is part of a near £1 million boost to Scottish mountain rescue teams from the Scottish Government, Police Scotland and St John Scotland, supported by UK search and rescue training funds.
Lochinver-based Assynt MRT covers all of Sutherland and Caithness and has one of the largest rescue areas in the country.
Team leader Sue Agnew said she was delighted with the new radios, which were badly needed.
Some of the communication difficulties with the old handsets were highlighted during a tragedy on Ben Hope in February when climbers Andy Nisbet (65) of Aberdeen and Steve Perry (47) from Inverness were killed after falling 3041ft.
Assynt MRT now has 35 members from all areas and walks of life.
The new radios will be capable of digital transmissions, allowing team members to text, sending both written and audio alerts, as well as warning when an open line is in use – crucially avoiding the jamming of radio waves during a rescue.
Through GPS, each member can also be pinpointed.
“Communication in the mountains is one of our biggest challenges,” Ms Agnew said.
“It is not just about the person we are trying to rescue, it is also about team member safety.
“These new radios will greatly reduce the communication blind spots we have and improve the efficiency of our rescues. Hopefully it will greatly benefit team members and those we are helping. It potentially means spending less time on a call-out.
“The last training of 2019 was getting familiar with our new radios. We based ourselves at Rosehall, testing our new radios outdoors, then back in the village hall.”
Ms Agnew said the team was also getting three new satellite phones to improve communications even more.