Three very different rescues undertaken by the Donegal Mountain Rescue Team (DMRT) will be featured on a new television series that begins next month on RTÉ One.
“Ireland Search and Rescue” premieres at 6.30pm, Sunday, Nov. 18th, on RTÉ One, with real rescues by DMRT, the Irish Coast Guard, Cork Fire Brigade, the RNLI, Irish Naval Services and mountain rescue teams from Dublin and Kerry.
The series includes three incidents DMRT responded to in September of 2011: the rescue of American tourist Kelly Jones, who went missing for four days near Glencolmcille; and the rescue of a couple and their dog and of another couple in two separate incidents on Muckish.
“They were all different,” said Brian Murray, DMRT spokesperson. “In one, the hardest part was the sheer duration,” he said of the four-day search for Kelly. In another, DMRT undertook a vertical climb to rescue a walker after an episode of vertigo, and in the third, horrible weather added its own challenges.
Team members also wore “head-cams” that they had planned to use to gather footage for DMRT web site, so the programme also includes interesting vantage points of the Donegal rescues.
“Not too long after, RTÉ came on to us to see if we would take part in a new series, and if we had any footage,” Brian said. “And it happened we had quite a bit of footage.”
DMRT were training with the Sligo helicopter team when the alarm was sounded about Kelly Jones.
“The footage shows moving from the training session into rescue, where the helicopter drops the team off on Slieve League, and covers the next four days,” Brian said. That’s when DMRT found Kelly weak and hypothermic, with no memory of what happened.
In another rescue, DMRT made a vertical climb to reach a walker who experienced vertigo while climbing a narrow, dangerous gully. In the third they rescued a couple and their dog who had gotten lost on Muckish after very bad weather came in; the woman later organised a fundraiser for DMRT. Eighty per cent of DMRT funding comes from voluntary donations.
DMRT is expected on the series’ second, fourth and sixth episodes. Brian said they will update their Facebook page if there are changes to that schedule. He said one of the show’s messages is how rescue agencies work together. There’s another; “It doesn’t matter what the terrain or how long it takes, we’ll always to our very best to extract anybody in trouble,” he said.