Name: Elana Bader
Job: Green Infrastructure Project & Funding Officer
Team: Tweed Valley MRT
Why did you join the Mountain Rescue?
I originally joined MR to meet the requirements for qualifying as a Search & Rescue dog handler. It also aligns with my love of being in the outdoors and climbing, in additional to involving a range of practical, useful skills, working as a team, and ultimately: helping people in need.
What are the good & bad bits about being in Mountain Rescue?
The obvious great bit is being able to rescue someone, and that they will be looked after and hopefully recover fully.
Knowing that we are coming to the aid of an individual in distress is quite sobering, as each ‘casualty’ is someone’s family member or friend. There are few things worse than worrying about a person we love, particularly if it becomes a matter of life or death. Personally I find our incidents involving ‘despondents’ particularly emotionally taxing, and it highlights in stark relief our humanness and the state of mental health services more generally.
Other challenges include the practical effects of long callouts, especially through the night or multiple days, and in my case not having a family or a partner to come home to for support. It can make juggling MR with life and work more difficult, and I do feel guilty if for example I cannot attend training or callouts due to work commitments or illness – or sheer exhaustion. On occasion I do have to remind myself – and my teammates feeling the same – that we are all volunteers at the end of the day, and only human!
On the flip side it is wonderful to experience the support we have from the communities we serve, and the lengths that people go to with their fundraising and generosity to support our team. Getting an update from people we have rescued, once they have recovered, is really rather nice. Being part of a wider family of MR folk across Scotland and the rest of the UK also means a lot.
What’s it like to be part of team?
I have met some really wonderful people in MR, many of whom have become heartfelt friends who I spend time with outside of the team, usually on climbing trips. Working long hours in challenging conditions and under sensitive circumstances becomes a lot easier when we’re in it together and can support each other. If I’m honest, quite often it is a shared black sense of humour that buoys morale and carries us through it all! Laughter goes a long way in MR and other emergency services.
What is like to be on a call out? How does it make you feel? How does leaving your loved ones in a moment’s notice make you feel?
The “red mist” feeling of adrenaline after being called out was a lot stronger when I first joined the callout list. With experience my response is now more measured: I take the time to first ensure that my basic needs – such as having enough to eat – have been met, and to assess the information available and consider potential scenarios so I am as prepared as possible. There is always a heightened sense of alertness, and a hopefulness for a good outcome – whilst also being prepared for the opposite.
I don’t really have the same worries about leaving loved ones behind the way some of my teammates with families do. This can be both a blessing as well as a challenge!