Scottish Mountain Rescue have said they are “slightly nervous” over the prospect of a “sudden rush of rescues” as people begin to return to the hills.
Earlier this week, the Scottish Government set out its phased approach to easing lockdown, with the first phase allowing for non-contact outdoor activities such as hiking – providing that people are doing so broadly within five miles of their home.
It means those who can adhere to the ‘getting around’ guidelines of the route map and are staying within a short distance of their local community can visit the hills from Thursday.
However, Scottish Mountain Rescue (SMR) has published a series of questions and answers on social media to guide people’s approach and ensure they are not overwhelmed by a rush of callouts.
Despite confirming SMR’s teams would be responding to callouts, they admitted a slightly nervousness and conceded they could “struggle to cope” with a rush of rescues.
They said: “A lot of work has gone in to new procedures to try and make callouts as safe as possible for our team members and casualties.
“We also now have an adequate stock of basic PPE for a few rescues for each team. Though to be honest we are slightly nervous, particularly if we get a sudden rush of rescues at any point, we may then struggle to cope.”
SMR also said rescues would not be the same as before, adding: “They will be much slower, with fewer people, more walking and carrying for us and on some occasions we may decide that we can help by phone only.”
Hikers have been asked to help by planning carefully and sticking to “the type of days that you know you have done safely for several years already.”
SMR added: “Be sensitive to any local community you are visiting, they are also worried.”
On the topic of extra equipment the charity said: “You may well have to wait for longer than we would normally like for a rescue, so group shelter or survival bag, extra warm clothing and food are a good idea.
“Assume you will be out overnight if that helps to plan, although we hope it won’t be the case. Also a small hand sanitiser, face covering such as a buff and thin rubber gloves could be added.”
People should not feel guilty if they need to call SMR, however, who said: “Accidents happen, we would be concerned if you didn’t call us. We are here to help, not judge.”