In an emergency call 999 and ask for Police then Mountain Rescue

Scottish Mountain Rescue (SMR) Mountain Rescue Teams (MRTs) responded to 683 callouts last year.

In an emergency, if you need to call out Mountain Rescue phone 999 and ask for Police and then Mountain Rescue or Cave Rescue if applicable.

When a call is made to the police it goes to the police who create an incident then contact the local officers. A decision is then made on whether to involve MRTs. The police may choose to involve the MRTs where a search or rescue is required and the terrain means that the MRTs have the best training, resources and expertise to be able to carry out the search and rescue operation. This means that callouts can range from an injured hill walker to a missing vulnerable person in a remote and rural area.

The police will then make a call to the nearest MRT. SMR Teams are on call 24 hours a day, so the call can come at any time, and the team members are all volunteers, so they might be in the middle of a work meeting, or a family celebration.


The team leader or a senior member of the team will coordinate the rescue, they work closely with the police to make a plan to resolve the incident, and they will cascade the callout to the rest of the team. The team members will usually agree an RV (rendezvous point), where the team will meet for a briefing. In the more remote areas of Scotland, it can sometimes take volunteers an hour or two to travel to the RV point.

Depending on the scenario the callout might involve several MRTs working together, and they might also bring in Search and Rescue Dog Association (Scotland) or Search and Rescue Dog Association (Southern Scotland), or the Search and Rescue Aerial Association if drone searches are required. In some cases, a Maritime and Coastguard Agency helicopter and other partner agencies are involved and the teams will work closely with them to resolve the incident.

The Scottish Cave Rescue Organisation may also be involved if search and rescue is needed in a cave or mine.

How long will a callout last?

Callouts can last from a few hours to several days, and every scenario is different, there is no such thing as a typical callout! MRTs are there for people when they get into difficulty in the mountains or in remote or rural terrain, whether they get lost, have an accident, go missing or are in distress. These incidents can be minor and non-serious or they can be life-threatening, but even minor incidents can quickly become more serious due to the fast-changing weather and conditions in our mountains and remote places.

The local knowledge of the teams can be vital in many search and rescue scenarios. Their extensive knowledge of the mountains and terrain in their local area can be so important in knowing where to look in scenarios where navigational errors are made, in making adaptations to equipment to cope with the different types of terrain they might need to cover and in knowing which communications options are likely to work, for example, whether a particular area has mobile phone coverage. It has been known for a team to be able to locate a missing person from a very small detail, simply because they know the area so well!

The teams are on call any hour, any day and any weather!