Mountain rescue team callouts surge to highest level on record

This year has also seen both the largest water and land-based searches ever conducted in the region.

The number of people rescued from the hills in Tayside has reached its highest record in the local mountain rescue team’s 52-year history.

Social media and visitors to the area are driving the surge in callouts with responders reminding people to do their research and to prepare before heading out in the hills.

Head of Police Scotland’s Tayside Mountain Rescue team, PC Paul Morgan, told STV News: “It’s again been a year-on-year increase for us so currently, although we’re only in September, now in our busiest year in 52 years of police mountain rescue in the Tayside area.

“92 incidents as of Wednesday and our highest previously was 82 as of last year. So, it’s just getting busier and busier.”

Since the 1970s people have been volunteering in Tayside, alongside officers from Police Scotland.

An eight-day river search in Edzell covering 16 kilometres of the River South Esk and 16 days searching hundreds of square kilometres on foot near Blair Atholl were carried out earlier this year – the largest water and land based operations ever carried out by Tayside teams.

PC Paul Morgan added: “For both of those incidents, the primary response is both my police mountain rescue team and our fantastic volunteer mountain rescue team in Tayside.

“But when things escalate, you’ve got bigger areas to search, further distances to go, other mountain rescue teams, police, RAF will come in for the ground searches, dogs as well.

“Then for the water searches, Scottish Fire and Rescue and the coastguard rescue service as well. So, multi-agency is the key to many things that we do in the countryside.”

Since 2015, the number of callouts for the areas police mountain rescue has more than doubled from 44 to 92.

It’s a similar picture for the volunteer team, with numbers rising by 89%, from 39 to 74.

PC Morgan said: “It’s so easy now just to go and get the kit, head into the hills and go try to get all the fabulous views that you’re seeing on social media. But there’s no rush.

“Just take your time, learn about the hills, learn what skills you need and just develop them over years.

“Take your time and build upon the equipment that you’re buying and the skills you’re learning.”

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