Much of the equipment used
in mountain rescue is exactly the same as that
which is used by mountaineers for rock climbing
and ice climbing, and general and alpine mountaineering;
even Himalayan mountaineering. Such items as
karabiners, slings (tape and perlon), belay
items (nuts and chocks, friends, pitons, ice
screws, dead men belay plates, etc.), ropes
- both nylon and pre-stretched (though pre-stretched
are specifically for lowering and fixed rope
situations), harnesses, helmets ice axes and
hammers, crampons, etc., the list is all but
Specialist Mountain and Cave Rescue equipment is much less familiar to the walker and mountaineer and is elaborated here:
Bell Mark III:
The MacInnes and the
Individual teams use a variety of lightweight bags but the MRC have gone over to a standard heavyweight bag made to our specifications by Aguille Alpine Equipment. This is now M.R.C. standard issue. The bag features a full length zip and is long enough to accommodate the tallest of casualties. The bag has a waterproof lining and fibre pile inner. It has carrying straps and zip access to enable monitoring of the casualty without having to undo the whole bag.
A number of these full body splinting/immobilising mattresses are on trial in England after extensive use in Europe and Scotland. The most effective to date seems to be the Hartwell, but we are working to develop our own design. The ability to effectively immobilise a casualty with back or neck injuries before transportation is vital.
The greatest advances however have been made in medical equipment, which through new technology is now available to mountain rescue and is used by members who have received training in its use. The innovations in such equipment have been many and varied over recent years; some developed primarily for mountain rescue use, some adopted from ambulance paramedic practice.
The 'warm air breathing apparatus' for the treatment of hypothermia (exhaustion/exposure) produces warm air for the patient to inhale, either independently or assisted, by passing air through soda lime crystals after they in turn have had a small quantity of carbon dioxide introduced into them giving a controlled temperature reaction. The 'Reviva' was first in this field, followed shortly afterwards by the 'Little Dragon'.
Other equipment in this field includes oxygen equipment with both automatic and on demand supply, Entonox analgesics gas, intra-venous infusion sets (drip sets), and comprehensive resuscitation sets/kits. For splinting of limbs, etc. a variety of splints are used, from inflatable splints to the more rigid, yet adaptable Kramer wire splint. When traction is needed the Hare Traction Splint and the Donway Pneumatic Traction Splint are more common. For spinal injuries the vacuum mattress is tending to replace spinal boards. The mattress is more adaptable and very useful in multiple injury patients.
The monitoring of bodily function such as pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and electrocardiograph recordings are being carried out using electronic equipment. Evaluation to date suggests that the costs are justified for teams with significant numbers of major medical problems. Pulse oximetry is used to measure oxygen saturation and is a valuable indication for example of an inadequate airway. The equipment is very expensive for outdoor use and has some limitations but is being used to some extent. It is anticipated that this technique will, with further development, become routine. Coupled with the monitoring of heart attack victims is the availability of programmed defribrillator machines. The ability to transmit and receive medical information directly between rescue teams on the hill and the hospital is also being investigated.
Most teams use some type
of 'off road' vehicle. All such vehicles are
generally 'four wheel drive' and all have been
modified/customised to suit individual teams.
Most are registered and equipped as ambulances.