Richard Warren. Test conducted with police was successful

Richard Warren. Test conducted with police was successful

Mountain experts are urging all hillwalkers and climbers to register their mobile phones for an emergency text service.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said the 999 text service could enable those in trouble on the hills to summon help when the signal is not good enough for a voice call.

Heather Morning, the MCofS mountain safety advisor, is urging mountaineers to register for the new service.  She said: “You can now contact the 999 emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone. This is going to be particularly useful for those needing 999 assistance in the hills when mobile phone reception is often intermittent and there is not enough signal to make a call.”

But the council stressed the service can only be used once a phone is registered. A spokesperson said: “The MCofS is urging mountaineers to register now rather than wait for an emergency.

“To register, text ‘register’ to 999. You will get a reply and will then need to follow the instructions you are sent. The text system is meant to be used only when voice calls cannot be made and the system does not guarantee that texts will be delivered, so users should wait until they receive a reply from the emergency services before assuming help has been summoned.”

The system was originally set up to help deaf and hard of hearing people.  Further details, including guidelines on how to register, can be found on the emergency SMS website.

MCofS membership development officer Mike Dales said: “This is a great idea that is bound to save lives.  I’ve just registered myself and it took less than two minutes.”

Responding to grough’s original story last week on the subject, Richard Warren, chair of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, ran a test on the system with the blessing of Cumbria Constabulary.

In the test, Mr Warren received confirmation the police were aware of the message within three minutes of sending it. He said: “I have discussed with Cumbria police who were aware of the text messaging service for the deaf and hard of hearing but had not heard of this new service – the call-handler group anyway.

“They have explained that if they receive a call via text messaging they will, in the first instance, try and speak to the person and if this fails will text back and take details by text.

“This will be a useful service for those times when you cannot get a decent signal for voice but can send text messages. If the system is abused they can de-activate the callers mobile and probably prosecute.”

Mountain rescue services in the UK are mobilised by the police.

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