An £8000 SMT grant to Oban Mountain Rescue Team has helped keep their digital equipment up to date and reliable. The Oban team needed to replace batches of their GPS units and avalanche transceivers, 15 of each, as they’d been in use for around 10 years and were beginning to fail. The new devices cost a total of £10,600 and the team were able to raise the balance themselves.

The Oban team started up in 2001, which makes it one of Scotland’s youngest. From its very beginning GPS units and transceivers have been essential kit.

For every callout, every team member will carry a GPS. The obvious benefit is that it tells the user where exactly he or she is! But there are other ways the devices help a team search or rescue effort. For example, if a searcher finds a casualty, they can share their exact location right away with all the other team members, who can then head directly to the right spot.

The GPS also provides a reliable, detailed record of what search area its user has covered. This in turn can be shared with, for example, the police or another rescue team on the hill.

As the name tells, you, avalanche transceivers are for winter work only. Of the 25-30 Oban MRT callouts in a typical year, they’d expect 10 or so to be in the winter months.

More and more climbers, walkers and expecially ski-tourers are now carrying these devices as a matter of course. All of them use the same wavelength, so any searcher can pick up the signal from any casualty’s transceiver. Using the transceiver is now always the first stage in any avalanche search.

Oban MRT’s 40 or so volunteers include dog handlers, doctors and paramedics. They are one of mainland Scotland’s westermost teams. Neighbours are Killin to the east, Arrochar to the south and Glencoe to the north.

They can expect callouts to nearby Ben Cruachan; they’ve flown over the water to Mull; they’ve made long journeys south too, down to Lochgilphead and even to the Kintyre peninsula.

Like all Scottish teams they receive government support, but also have to work hard to raise the bulk of their costs. To donate, visit them on http://obanmrt.co.uk/ .

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