SO MUCH MORE THAN MOUNTAINS
The team responds to calls for assistance from the Police or Ambulance Service, usually following a 999 call from a member of the public. Our patch is one of the largest areas covered by a single Mountain Rescue Team in the U.K. We respond to call outs from two police forces, South Wales and Dyfed Powys.
24/7 365 Days a Year!
During a typical year the we respond to between 50 to 60 call outs and are available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. Call outs come at all times of the day or night and can be in mountainous, rural, semi-urban, or urban areas. No matter the time or whatever the weather, our volunteers are always ready and able to respond.
There are two main types of call out, medical emergencies (about 40%) and searches for missing person(s). However we can be called upon to assist with other types of incidents, for example providing 4×4 transport in snow, or attending aircraft crashes.
We respond to calls for assistance from people who have injured themselves on the mountains of South and Mid Wales. Fractures to the lower leg are the most common injury we come across. Potentially life changing injuries such as suspected spinal damage are dealt with commonly, especially in the Waterfalls area around Ystradfellte and the mountain biking routes of Afan Argoed.
We respond to call outs from the Ambulance service when they require our specialist rope skills to help with the safe extraction of the casualty. All our members are comfortable working on steep and dangerous ground. An “Area Call” where all four teams in the South Wales region are alerted is often initiated with medical emergencies. Members from all the teams who are within 45 minutes of the rendezvous point then attend.
Searches can happen anywhere in our area; on the mountains, in rural areas or even on the outskirts of a town.
Often we are called to search for lost walkers on the mountains of the western Brecon Beacons, where the weather and terrain can sometimes catch out even the most experienced of walkers. A large and growing percentage of our searches are carried out in more lowland areas where typically we might be looking for a vulnerable missing person. The skills learnt and used in the mountains are just as relevant in lowland areas where steeps slopes may be replaced by farm fields, woodland, forest or scrub. Team members are also trained to a high standard to safely search alongside rivers and other water features using specialist equipment and techniques.
The team was formed in 1964 as the Bridgend Scout Mountain Rescue team after its founder Mike Rudall completed a Rover Scout project in Bridgend, the project highlighted that there was a need for a civilian Mountain Rescue Team in the western part of the Brecon Beacons. Mike was helped and assisted in the initial formation of the team by Colin Pibworth of RAF St. Athan Mountain Rescue Team, and for a number of years Bridgend MRT remained a formal sub unit of RAF St. Athan MRT.
In 1967 the team changed its name to Bridgend Mountain Rescue Team, as it had become completely independent from the Scout movement. With the name change the team attracted new members from all walks of life from all over South Wales. The team became a registered charity in 1971.
On the 1st May 1983, Mike Ruddal (also known as Nog) tragically died whilst rescuing a group of scout’s hill walking in extremely bad weather conditions on Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. The scouts had fallen down the north face of Pen y Fan and during the subsequent rescue operation, Mike shielded one of the casualties with his own body, during a spontaneous rock fall and was killed. A memorial stone to Mike can be seen at the Mountain Centre at Libanus near Brecon.
In 1997 the team changed its name once again to become Western Beacons Mountain Search and Rescue Team. The name change gave a positive indication of the team’s primary operational area within South Wales for both its search and rescue operations. The addition of Search to the team’s name highlighted the variety and differing nature of the incidents attended, such as urban and rural searching, as well as the search and rescue activities in mountainous and rough terrain.