Name: Kim Ritchie
Job: Website Developer
Team: Border Search and Rescue Unit
Why did you join the Mountain Rescue?
I really had no idea what I was getting into when I joined up 8 years ago… a friend had joined and talked about hill skills, helicopters, 4×4 driving, ropework, first aid.. it sounded like a great opportunity to expand and improve my own skills, and become more confident and self reliant. I’m glad I didn’t have the expectation of dramatic ‘mountain rescues’ saving lives all the time – the reality is often a lot of arduous lowland searching and not always finding someone or being able to help them. And a lot of time devoted to fundraising! We currently have no proper base, and are actively fundraising to build one, which is proving a major challenge but its great to see team members rising to the challenge and demonstrating a whole new set of skills and talents! I’ve been team secretary for the last 7 years, and I love being able to contribute in that way too – we have a strong committee who are always looking to improve how we operate.
Good & bad bits about being in Mountain Rescue?
Worst thing is probably the when the pager goes off in the middle of the night. Best bits are that whenever the pager goes off, its an opportunity to spend some time with amazing people, a chance to contribute and ‘play my part’, put the training into practice. Some of my most memorable callouts have been searching through beautiful woodland or along a riverside during a moonlit night when you would never normally be out, and just taking a moment to appreciate ‘being there’ with teammates who are just the easiest company, because we’re all there for the same reasons. Also the training is second to none… we put a lot of time and effort into team training, which combined with the SMR training courses make you really appreciate the experience, expertise and knowledge out there that we can tap into.
What’s it like to be part of team?
Its a massive time commitment, but the reward for that is getting to know and trust your teammates really well. What a privilege to be included in this ‘family’ and be relied upon and have your skills appreciated by these people.. as well as being able to observe real experts in action! Your team mates see you at your best and worst.. its important never to be afraid to admit you’ve got something wrong or need help – honesty and trust go hand in hand. Watching other teammates grow in confidence and skills over their time in the team is great – knowing who you can rely on for what, and seeing us all slip into our roles like a well oiled machine when it matters.
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?
Guilt – who else will this callout affect? Usually my husband – a disturbed night’s sleep can affect his work as a flying instructor the next day too – I can’t stop him worrying about me driving home after a long and tiring night. Its really helpful to share the travelling with other local teammates if its a longer journey – even so that one can do communications/navigation while the other drives, and of course to keep each other awake driving home! As soon as I meet up with even one teammate, we can share any thoughts, worries or uncertainties about the callout, and then start to enjoy the challenge.
Anything else you might like to add?
I feel hugely privileged to be a member of the Border Search and Rescue Unit – they have been a constant source of friendship, support, validation and fun and have seen me through several of life’s ups and downs over my time in the team. I hope I can continue to play my part with them for many years to come!