Unprepared climbers are pushing rescuers too far
A DEDICATED squad to rescue injured hikers from Mt Warning is on the cards following an influx in call-outs from "unprepared climbers" who are draining the resources of emergency services.
The Tweed Volunteer Rescue Association says resources are being stretched to the limit as a record number of people find themselves injured or stuck near the summit of the mountain.
Spokesman Drew Carr said 15 people had required rescue from the mountain this year alone.
He said the Mt Warning walking track had been ravaged by last year's flood, making it much more dangerous than before.
"It's a completely different track to what it was before the flood, it's not an amateur walk any more, it's slippery, eroded and much more challenging, it's ankle injuries we're coming up against the most," Mr Carr said.
"We used to have a trend of people going missing by walking off the track, it used to be a search but now it's mostly a rescue."
Mr Carr said the association was considering putting together a specialised unit dedicated to mountain rescues to help ease the pressure off other volunteers.
"If there's someone at the bottom of the chain near the summit you need up to 33 people to get that person down, with all the agencies we can get those numbers, however it's probably a six to seven hour operation and to have that many people tied up at the same time, it does stretch resources," he said.
"Mt Warning isn't going away any time soon, people come from all over the world to climb it even though the traditional landowners have requested people not to.
"Most of our calls come from people who aren't prepared enough, don't take enough water or are not dressed appropriately.
"To have a dedicated crew to assist us in just Mt Warning jobs is something we're really considering."
But recruiting volunteers isn't easy.
Mr Carr says a stigma surrounding what association volunteers have to see on a day-to-day basis has made recruitment difficult.
"The landscape of volunteering has changed, it's harder to get and retain volunteers due to everyone being more busy with more financial pressures," he said.
"There's also a stigma people won't have the stomach to deal with traumatic situations as we're the first point of call for the Tweed Shire in terms of road collisions.
"However, if people don't want to attend collisions, they could be trained in vertical rescue or land search which would help us with numbers."
Mr Carr said while the association was not currently desperate for volunteers, it was looking for non-operational roles to assist with the squad.
For more information visit their Facebook page.