Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team launches £80,000 appeal for new command vehicle

Photo: Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team.

Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team (SMRT) has launched a major crowdfunding campaign to raise £80,000 for a vital new incident command van.

As well as asking for donations, the charity is appealing for the public to help with their own fundraising initiatives to enable it to purchase the vehicle.

It would replace an aging incident command trailer which has been a crucial piece of equipment for more than 15 years.

The trailer is the operational nerve centre on call-outs and houses their communications and IT equipment, but time has taken its toll.

Ian Spiers, SMRT chairman, said: “It’s difficult to manoeuvre, requires specialist driving skills, is time consuming to set up and is requiring more and more maintenance.

“After careful consideration we have concluded that the best solution is to replace our trailer with a new incident command vehicle which will offer greater operational flexibility and reliability and help with our life saving work.

“We have talked at length with suppliers, vehicle converters and other mountain rescue teams and we have found a vehicle and conversion specification that will best suit our needs for now and many years into the future.

“We have fully costed up our project and will require £80,000 to turn it into a reality.”

The team is looking to purchase and convert a Volkswagen T32 van into the new command vehicle.

The vehicle will:

  • Act as their communications and IT hub and liaison point with other emergency services.
  • Transport team members to call outs.
  • Have built-in welfare facilities for team members.
  • Carry additional equipment when required.
  • Be fully liveried as a mountain rescue vehicle with blue lights and sirens.
  • Enable the team to respond to manage operations more effectively and ultimately provide better care for casualties.
A diagram of the new command vehicle.

Steve Clough, SMRT rescue controller, said the campaign was being launched following an extremely busy period for the team.

Although the year started quietly, and there were few call-outs during the early part of the lockdown, the team found itself increasingly busy as restrictions were eased and more people head into the countryside for relaxation.

As well as a number of incidents involving injuries to walkers and hikers in the Dales, the team also responded to three large search operations.

These included a major search in September for 80-year-old retired shipyard worker Harry Harvey who was missing for three days on the moors before flagging down a passing motorist near Keld.

Steve said the new vehicle would allow the team to communicate with the other emergency services much more efficiently, and produce search plans far quicker.

“We’ve held off as long as we could but have decided now is the time to go for it and replace the trailer to bring the team into the 21st century.”

SMRT is made up of a dedicated group of more than 40 local volunteers.

The charity, which receives no regular government funding and relies almost entirely on donations from the public, is available 24/7 to save life and limb across 750 square miles of predominantly upland fells.

Their unique skills and capabilities will enable them to assist all the North Yorkshire Emergency Services across a wide range of life-threatening situations including search and rescue above ground, underground and in water.


How To Help

The crowdfunding campaign to raise £80,000 will be launched at 12noon on November 1. 

To donate, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/smrt-vehicle-appeal after that date or use this QR code.

To find out more about their work or contact the group with fundraising ideas, visit www.swaledalemrt.org.uk