In the shoes of… a Mountain Rescuer

Gareth Lowe has been a volunteer mountain rescuer at Woodhead Mountain Rescue in Sheffield since 2010. Their team of 45 volunteers are on constant call-out looking after their regional area of the Peak District.

Gareth began volunteering for the mountain rescue to give back to society and make a difference whilst also staying active.

Part of the job entails looking for missing people and helping people that have been injured.

The two most common jobs are ‘snatch’ where the whereabouts of the person is known and you have to get them to safety, and ‘search’ where someone is missing.

Gareth said: “It’s exciting getting the call, search jobs are hard as you need a different mindset and snatch jobs are awkward, they’re usually life or death, you’re training kicks in and you go in with the mindset of knowing what to be prepared for.”

In training the rescuers are taught how to act and what to do in all types of situations in the peaks, the training includes things like:

  • Search planning
  • Navigation
  • Hill craft
  • Technical Rope Training

“We’re taught how to act, whether it’s dealing with people that don’t want to be found, to looking for someone with Alzheimer’s.”

A key part of the role is coping well under pressure and being able to think logically about what needs to be done.

“I’ve never dealt with a fatality, but I’ve been on searches where people have gone to take their own life, and that’s a shock, you have to remember you’re there to help and get them to safety.”

The team deal with situations like this by talking and preventing themselves from getting caught in the moment and the emotions of the situation.

“You can make a mess of yourself falling off a mountain bike, you can get a compound fracture where the bone sticks out and it’s horrible, but you look at it and say ‘mate that’s gonna hurt'”


Gareth said that people have a massive sense of relief when they see the rescuers as when they’re lost, fear sets in.

The peaks are so vast and exposed in some areas that you can find yourself away from everything until help arrives.

“The best part is how grateful the people we rescue are, it’s always nice, you get that warm feeling, a sense of pride, a job well done.”

To find out more about Woodhead Mountain Rescue or to donate, click here.



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