International Women’s Day

Today we celebrate all the strong and courageous women within the Mountain Rescue.

Today, we would like to send a special thank you to all the women in Mountain Rescue who volunteer to save lives any hour, any day, and in any weather.

We have three inspiring profiles to share with you all today.

Name: Naomi Dodds
Age: 29 years old
Occupation: Doctor
Team: Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team

I joined a mountain rescue team in 2010 to combine my love for medicine and mountaineering, and have not regretted that decision ever since!

One of the best things about being part of a mountain rescue team is the fantastic opportunity for continual personal and professional development, with various training courses and chance to practice technical mountaineering and pre-hospital care skills on a regular basis. I also enjoy the constant physical and emotional challenge that being in a team brings, often finding yourself out in the hills in the darkness of night in weather conditions you would not usually choose to go out in personally for an adventure with friends! It is a big time commitment and can sometimes be difficult to find the perfect balance between mountain rescue activities, work and spending time with friends and family. 

Often on a call-out we are initially working with limited information and therefore plans are fluid and adaptable, with anticipation over what we may encounter next. On a big winter search, it’s interesting to think through the psychology and decision making processes of that individual to try and piece together where they may be and the situation they may have found themselves in. A successful outcome is always very rewarding and reminds us why we volunteer and dedicate time to mountain rescue.

It’s great to be part of a team consisting of inspiring, dependable, like-minded individuals to share ideas, experiences and memories with. The team feels like an extended family as we regularly train and socialise together, be it a mountain marathon, local bike rides or summer BBQ!  


Name: Belinda DiQuinzio
Age: 41
Occupation: GPS Inspections Support Officer, Scottish Government
Team: Borders Search and Rescue Unit (BSARU)

I’m happiest outdoors in the hills pushing myself physically and mentally, and am very passionate about Scotland’s natural heritage, most especially its mountain landscapes. However I am also very interested in people and am naturally inclined towards reaching out to those in need. I have done a lot of volunteer work throughout the years, mostly in nature conservation, but as a long-standing admirer of the volunteer mountain rescue effort in this country I thought it might be an ideal outlet for all of my key hobbies and interests. From the outset it has exceeded my expectations in terms of the fulfilment I get from it on a personal level. Obviously it’s not all blue-sky-weather, drinking cups of tea in the sunshine against a backdrop of pristine, snow-capped peaks…. more often, it necessitates quite a bit of hard work, being prepared for late nights and interrupted weekends, trudging up tae yer oxters in bracken ‘n bog and getting very wet indeed. But it is nonetheless extremely stimulating and satisfying – and I love it!

There are so many rewarding aspects of being involved in mountain rescue. For instance, being part of a very close-knit team, where each individual brings their unique personality and experiences to the mix. Witnessing the dedication people demonstrate in attending training, sharing knowledge, and crucially, supporting each other. Learning new skills and improving on existing ones under the superb tutelage of more experienced team members, which you can also transfer to your own pursuits. Meeting like-minded people both within your own team and in others, and the links forged with complementary emergency services sharing a common endeavour and best practice. The appreciation felt by those that are assisted by our team members and their loved ones often in very distressing circumstances is very humbling and reinforces our determination to do the best job we can when we’re called.

As a woman, I’m able to join a mountain rescue team as an equal member. What was traditionally a male-dominated culture is now inclusive, without boundaries, where everybody is judged on their merits, i.e. their technical abilities, fitness and experience.

If the “bad points” were of any significance to commit to paper, I wouldn’t be a volunteer. I like to concentrate on the positives, of which there are many! 

Being summoned for a callout can trigger a vast array of emotional reactions, but for me the predominant ones are eagerness (to be put into action), and concern (for the casualty/ies). It’s what we put the many hours of training in for, but being deployed for real can be both exhilarating and intimidating at the same time.

For all the anticipation, you want to be fully prepared and remain calm in order to make rational decisions in what can be a confusing, rapidly evolving picture, often set against adverse and hazardous conditions. This starts as soon as you jump into the car, having to put the reins on the adrenaline rush in order to get to the rendezvous site in one piece! Regularly attending training and exercises provides a great foundation for when you really need the necessary skills to kick in automatically.  Moreover, it helps to build relationships with your team colleagues and get a sense of what each others’ individual strengths are, and how to best engage them. Being flexible and willing to fulfil any task that’s required to get the casualties and each of your colleagues back to safety is absolutely vital; after all, it’s not about “individualism” but about the larger picture.

I have met some of the most amazing, selfless, enthusiastic and funny people in my time with BSARU that I have ever encountered.  These wonderful people are my team colleagues, and their families, who play an important part of what we do by supporting us in countless ways. There exists a tremendous sense of bonhomie and inclusiveness that is very addictive and has made such a positive impact on my experience of volunteering for mountain rescue. With so much talent and skill amongst them, and such willingness to share their knowledge with other team members, I consider it an absolute privilege to be part of this team and the wider SMR community.


Name: Kirstie Smith
Age: 35
Occupation: Post Lady
Team: Arran Mountain Rescue & SARDA Southern

I joined my local Arran MRT in 2004 after discovering my love for the hills and mountains and i thought it would be interesting to learn more skills, be part of a team who also love the mountains and help the local community in some way.

I also decided to train a search and rescue dog in 2015 through SARDA Southern Scotland as i love dogs and was really interested in learning the search dog side of MR.

I guess the downside of MR is leaving family from anything from a few hours to multiple days and also never fully knowing what you are being called out to, which can sometimes be daunting.
On the plus side, not fully knowing can also be exciting and the fact that you are all out helping people in need and hopefully bringing people home to their own families makes it all worthwhile.
No matter how experienced you are, there is always an element of risk to enjoying the mountains so being able to help others when things don’t go according to plan is a way of giving back.

MR has a very unique camaraderie between team members and although there are many different personalities and backgrounds, each and every person is giving their time freely to simply help others who want to enjoy the mountains which to me is something very special and important.

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Scottish Mountain Rescue, formerly known as The Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland, is a registered Scottish Charity – number SC045003