Mountain rescuers going to help people in difficulty in the south of Scotland will use a fire station in Dumfries and Galloway to base their new 4x4 ambulance.
The agreement between the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and the Galloway Mountain Rescue Team will see the volunteer unit’s specialist new vehicle housed in the appliance bay of Castle Douglas Fire Station.
Area Manager Alan Fairbairn, the SFRS local senior officer for Dumfries and Galloway, said: “Protecting the public is at the heart of everything we do and this is another example of the great partnerships between emergency services benefiting our communities.
“When the Galloway Mountain Rescue Team asked if the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service could help house their brand new vehicle it was of course something we wanted to make happen.
“By locating this state-of-the-art rescue vehicle at Castle Douglas Fire Station until the team has a suitable garage, we can help ensure it’s in great condition to help people for years to come.”
Galloway Mountain Rescue Team purchased the 4x4 VW Transporter thanks to an anonymous £20,000 donation and funding for the same amount from the medical and rescue charity St John Scotland.
Mountain rescue team leader Ken Mackenzie said: “This is a massive improvement on the vehicle it replaces. Technology has moved forward and we are fortunate to have the very latest fully equipped vehicle as part of our rescue fleet.
“In personnel-carrying mode it comfortably accommodates seven rescuers and all their equipment, yet it converts into a stretcher carrying ambulance in less than 60 seconds.
“Previously, the rescue vehicle was based at Castle Douglas Police Station, and since the team are coordinated by Police Scotland, this was a sensible arrangement for which we were grateful.
“However, sitting outside, exposed to the elements, isn’t ideal and having this new vehicle garaged from the outset was a priority to the team.
“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service allowing us to garage the Galloway Mountain Rescue Team vehicle at Castle Douglas Fire Station, until we can arrange our own facility, means we have an opportunity to build upon an already positive relationship.”
The 14 members of the Galloway Mountain Rescue Team based around Castle Douglas are on-call to assist injured or lost walkers, climbers and others in western Dumfries and Galloway and over the boundary with South Ayrshire.
Since its formation in 1975 the team has responded to over 420 incidents and team members undertake regular training to ensure they maintain the skills and knowledge required of the role.
Area Manager Fairbairn added: “Firefighters and our fellow emergency responders are used to working incredibly closely at incidents and in the proactive work done to help keep the area safe.
“I’m delighted the fire service can step in to provide a much-need facility for our colleagues in the Galloway Mountain Rescue Team.”
Sir Malcolm Ross, lord lieutenant of Kirkcudbright and prior of St John Scotland, officially handed over the new vehicle at the fire station on Saturday 22 November.
He said: “It is indeed a great pleasure to present my local mountain rescue team with the keys for this fantastic new vehicle.
“St John Scotland has now supported teams around the country with 13 new bases and as part of our mountain rescue support project and we are now replacing vehicles we originally purchased when the programme commenced back in 1998.
“St John Scotland provided £20,000 towards the cost of this vehicle and it is particularly pleasing to see it being garaged in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
“This is such a sensible and welcome arrangement, which will protect our investment.”