Mountain Rescue: Don't Put us at Risk!

Mountain Rescue

Mountain Rescue Ireland - Walking Ireland during Covid 19

PLEASE NOTE: Mountain Rescue Ireland is an all island body. However, the jurisdictions of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have different Covid 19 pandemic plans in place.

PLEASE NOTE: It is worth noting this information for anyone who lives in the Border region of Northern Ireland.

Not all those who wander are lost

Walking in Ireland is a national past time.

We all love to go for a ‘dander’!

We may be a small island but the shifts of tectonic places in our earth’s history, has dealt Ireland a good hand as a walker’s paradise.

Just take a walk into the Mourne Mountains and you will be captivated by it’s rugged beauty, mystery and stunning landscapes of mountain, water and air. (See what CS Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia had to say about it below)

The Covid pandemic lockdown has kept the walkers off the trails and mountains, confined to pacing the living room or the back garden.

As a society, economically and for our general wellbeing, we need to get back to some sort of normality under the guidance of governmental scientific experts. 

With Phase 1 of the Covid Re-opening in the Republic Of Ireland kicking off on 18 May 2020, the courageous volunteer force of Mountain Rescue Ireland has issued a warning to all of us who are tempted to hit the hills immediately.

Maidens of the Mourne 2019

This is the statement from Mountain Rescue Ireland on the introduction of Phase 1 of the Covid Reopening Roadmap in the Republic Ireland:

‘COVID-19, Phase 1
Mountain rescue Ireland (MRI) recognises the importance of the outdoor environment for the physical and mental wellbeing of the community.

MRI would like to thank the public for your continued adherence to the Government guidelines during this global pandemic.

MRI anticipate a potential surge in people engaging in outdoor recreation arising from the Governments announcement of Phase 1 restrictions. 

MRI remain concerned that outdoor recreation will present a challenging environment for people to ensure safe distancing of 2 meters and in the context of personnel and vehicle congregate in areas such as car parks, trail entrances and scenic viewpoints.

Should the need for an emergency search and rescue response arise in an upland or mountainous area, it will prove extremely challenging for mountain rescue to maintain safe distancing between injured parties and rescuers.

The operational environment and limited PPE supply chain places volunteer rescuers at risk and in turn the patient.

We area also concerned with overwhelming the health system during this time.

MRI recommend that any outdoor activities conducted should be:
* within the 5 km required zone
* be of short duration
* be complete during daylight hours
* be complete in low risk areas
* be complete with social distancing of 2 meters maintained

Congregating for hill walking or rock climbing in popular tourist areas would not be appropriate as per Government guidance.

To date MR teams have sustained rescue services during this global pandemic. Mountain rescue is a highly specialised, but a finite resource arising from its voluntary service and there has been changes in operational practices to safeguard the MRI volunteers firstly then the public.

These changes include the increased use of phone triage and support, combined with callout efficiency driven by web-based platforms for the emergency services.

Mountain rescue teams are being challenged by the logistical difficulties of sourcing appropriate and affordable PPE, and anti-contamination measures for any equipment used.

MRI is an all-island body and therefore communicating this message to RoI and NI members of the public is essential. We are thoroughly engaged with governments on both sides of the boarder. 

There will be challenges due to the differences in the phased return to normality in each jurisdiction but together we will continue to work to address any issues.”

Northern Ireland Covid Reopening Roadmap

When will things return to normal in Northern Ireland After Coronavirus pandemic crisis?

There are no fixed dates for when any single restriction will be lifted. 

This is because those decisions in the future will depend on three key things:

  • the most up-to-date medical and scientific advice
  • the ability of our health service to cope
  • the wider impact on our health, society and the economy

As things stand, the situation in Northern Ireland remains the same.

Northern Ireland Covid 19

Below is the Northern Ireland Executives document – Coronavirus – Our approach to decision making – Read the full document HERE

Northern Ireland Covid Reopening Roadmap
Northern Ireland Covid Reopening Roadmap

Republic of Ireland Covid Reopening Roadmap

Phase 1 (18 May)

  • allow outdoor meetings between people from different households
  • open up childcare for healthcare workers
  • phased return of outdoor workers
  • open retailers which are primarily outdoor or those which were open during first level of restriction (e.g. opticians)
  • opening of certain outdoor public amenities

Phase 2 (8 June)

  • allow visits to households
  • develop plans and supports to open up business with consideration for safety of staff and customers
  • open small retail outlets and marts where social distancing can be observed
  • open public libraries

Phase 3 (29 June)

  • allow small social gatherings
  • opening of crèches, childminders and pre-schools for children of essential workers in phased manner
  • return to work for those with low levels of interaction
  • open non-essential retail outlets with street level entrance and exit
  • open playgrounds

Phase 4 (20 July)

  • opening of crèches, childminders and pre-schools for children of all other workers on a gradually increasing basis
  • return to work for those who cannot work from home
  • gradual easing of restrictions for higher risk services (e.g. Hairdressers)
  • opening of museums, galleries, places of worship

Phase 5 (10 August)

  • allow larger social gatherings
  • return to work across all sectors
  • on a phased basis, commencing at the beginning of the academic year 2020/2021, opening of primary and secondary schools and 3rd level institutions
  • further easing of restrictions on high risk retail services

The Roadmap also sets out a framework for future decision making, which will at all times be underpinned by public health advice.

The government will regularly assess the following criteria as we seek to keep the level of transmission low while gradually restarting our economy:

  • the latest data regarding the progression of the disease
  • the capacity of the health service
  • the capacity of the testing and tracing system
  • the measures in place to protect vulnerable groups
  • an assessment of the impact of excess morbidity and mortality as a consequence of the restrictions
Republic of Ireland Covid Reopening Roadmap

Read more about the Republic of Ireland’s Plan HERE

Mourne Rescue Team

Useful Numbers and Links

Mountain Rescue Ireland Number  

For Emergencies 


Mourne Mountain Rescue Team on Facebook 

Mountain Rescue Ireland on Facebook


Mountain Rescue Emergency Call 999

Walking Ireland Tours – Mourne Mountains Tour Guides – Walk The Mournes Guided Walking Tours of Ireland Mourne Mountains

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