Mountain Rescue Magazine Winter 2021



Call-outs in the time of COVID

Poppy was one of a few search dogs initiated into the fold of what was then SARDA England as an outsider to MREW, because handler James Taylor-Short was a member of HM Coastguard at the time he applied. After many hurdles, they graded in January 2012. After a short stint remaining with HM Coastguard, it became clear that, to get the best out of both James and Poppy, it would be a good move to join his local team so, having passed through the team’s usual training programme, they became fully-fledged members of Exmoor Mountain Rescue Team. But, as with all MRSDE search dog teams, work and training extended far beyond their home patch, travelling to some of England’s most beautiful mountain regions including the Lake District, the Dales and the Peak District. During their working life together, Poppy and James attended countless call-outs and travelled across the PenMaCra region searching for all types of missing persons. ‘I recall our most memorable call-out was to Tresco on the Scilly Isles,’ says James. ‘We spent four days on the island, along with other search dogs and rescue team members, searching for a missing nineteen year old. On the last day, Poppy sustained a foot injury taking her out of action for a few days when she worked through some cut elephant grass. The boat trip there and back scared both Poppy and myself... neither of us were good in the rough seas!’ Poppy has been an integral part of the Exmoor team on call-outs and also PR and fundraising events and invaluable in the location of missing persons. ‘As every dog handler knows, the decision to retire your search dog is dreaded but as Poppy is now twelve, she’s showing signs of slowing down so the decision seemed right. Going out on call-outs without my ‘wing girl’ will be strange, but new adventures are afoot for us both and we look forward to embracing them in the future’. The Exmoor team would like to extend their thanks to Poppy for her service and all the support of MRSDE over the years. There have been a few people who have been vital to the success of Poppy’s working life and maintaining her high standard of training. Poppy and James would like to thank Matt Roberts, Steven Ward (Wardy), NL (you know who you are) and Jacquie Hall for your help and complete faith in us and your ability to always find a solution to our training puzzles. Also to everyone who has every bodied for us over the years! Can’t do it without your help! After nearly nine years of service, Poppy has stepped down from search dog duties in the south west. She is hanging up her working jacket and looking forward to a lovely retirement in sunny Devon.

NOVEMBER: THIS ISSUE’S SHAGGY SHEEP RESCUE STORY Despite Covid restrictions across the county, Yorkshire’s sheep have continued to stage impromptu training sessions to ensure team members stay on top of their game in the technical rope rescue department. The search dogs get a run out too, standing guard else the mischief-makers run along the edge of the cliff and do it all again. Above: Swaledale team members keep their sheep rescue skills up to scratch © Swaledale MRT. Coming to a rescue team near you, maybe one day soon? Gravity Industries’ Jet Suit found its way to the Lakes and news headlines, in late September, on test with the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), with the tantalising prospect that future patients might be reached in minutes by a ‘flying’ medic. The first test flight came after a year of talks between the air ambulance service and the British company that is pioneering human aeronautical innovation. Andy Mawson, director of operations at GNAAS, came up with the idea and described seeing it in action as ‘awesome’. The idea is that a paramedic could ‘fly’ to a fell top in 90 seconds rather than taking 30 minutes on foot, wearing a suit that has two mini engines on each arm and one on the back, allowing the paramedic to control their movement just by moving their hands. The test flight was carried out by Richard Browning, founder of Gravity Industries, who has cited the Marvel Comics character Iron Man as inspiration to make human flight a reality. ‘If the idea takes off,’ adds Mawson, ‘the flying paramedic will be armed with a medical kit, including strong pain relief for walkers who may have suffered fractures, and a defibrillator for those who may have suffered a heart attack.’ We’d best get saving up... SEPTEMBER: JET SUIT PARAMEDIC TESTED IN LAKE DISTRICT

Top: James Taylor-Short with Poppy © James Taylor-Short.



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