Dedicated rescue volunteers at heart of the community in Burnley and Pendle make desperate plea for public's support
The AA once boasted to be the 'fourth' emergency service, but that accolade surely belongs to a team made up entirely of volunteers who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team is one of 49 teams across the UK.
There are 42 volunteers in the Rossendale and Pendle team and out of the teams in the country so far this year they have received the highest number of call outs, which today stands at 25.
Ranging from rescuing walkers injured while out in remote places to a motorist suffering chest pains on a farm track, who could not be reached by a 'normal' ambulance, the team never know what emergency they will be called out to.
Because the organisation is called 'mountain rescue' so many people assume their work is confined to dramatic hill top rescues.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
A couple of years ago a team was called to a house in Ightenhill area of Burnley where a 92-year-old lady had fallen in her bathroom. She had perched herself on top of the toilet to close the window, lost her footing and fallen into the bath, breaking her femur in the process.
Paramedics did not have a stretcher narrow enough to fit into the tiny space. But the mountain rescue team did and they were able to get the casualty safely out.
The mountain rescue volunteers consider themselves to be at the very heart of the community, providing a varied and valued service working in conjunction with all the emergency services and also in their own right as a search and rescue team. But they can also offer an invaluable service taking patients who live in rural and remote areas to hospital for much needed treatment such as dialysis.
They also regularly help search for missing vulnerable people, on and off the hills, whilst administering sympathetic support to their families. They search river banks and swift water, and wade chest-deep through flooded urban streets aiding devastated homeowners.
They also rescued a number of various animals, from all manner of inaccessible places.
All this whilst continuing to practise and hone their first advanced aid skills, technical ropework, water rescue and search management, and maintaining their bases, equipment and vehicles not to mention taking time to maintain their own fitness.
Volunteer and press officer Andy Bradshaw said: "All our volunteers undergo a rigorous training programe and also take part in weekly training sessions to keep their skills updated.
"None of us receive payment for what we do and that goes right up to the trustees of the organisation."
It's hard to imagine but these amazing volunteers cover a staggering 350 square miles, from their Burnley and Rossendale bases that covers as far as Skipton, up to settle, north of Preston, the outskirts of Oldham across to Cliviger and over the entirety of Pendle and Rossendale.
Like all charities, whose patron is Prince William, mountain rescue is reliant on donations and public funding.
The closure of pubs, shops and other premises where the charity has collection boxes has been catastrophic for Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team. The £27,000 income it usually raises in a year with events, safety cover and 'tin shakes' has now dropped to zero because of the pandemic.
Andy said: "We are appealing for the support of the public through donations and also companies who may be willing to sponsor us moving forward.
"These are desperate times for the many organisations and charites that do so much vital work.
"We really do need their help."
The organisation is also looking to raise £20,000 to pay for the conversion of a four by four vehicle into a new ambulance equipped with the latest up to date life saving equipment, including increased stretcher capability and oxygen supplies.
The new ambulance will be based at the organisation's Burnley base, the nerve centre flagship which opened in 2015, and is also the base for three other emergency vehicles. The first of these is a four by four converted to an ambulance that volunteers use as their 'go to' vehicle and the second is a Mercedes van that serves as the control centre vehicle for communication and a control base with other emergency services.
The Burnley base took approximately 30 years to save for and it gave the team a secure environment to house equipment and vehicles, provide a larger training area and will improve response times to the northern part of their operating area.
* Would you like to help this invaluable organisation? You can help with the work they do and support the team by texting 'RPMRT' and an amount (ie 'RPMRT 10') to 70085 to donate today. Alternatively donate online at www.justgiving.com/RPMRT or further options including setting up monthly donations available through www.donr.com/rpmrt
You can also get in touch direct via the website: www.RPMRT.org.uk or message the team through its Facebook page.