Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team leader Owen Phillips

Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team leader Owen Phillips

A rescue team has launched a fundraising drive to replace its control vehicle, which was damaged beyond repair in an accident.

Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team’s vehicle suffered what was believed to be minor damage in a collision last summer.

Team leader Owen Phillips said insurers wrote off the vehicle after it became clear the cost of repair would be much more than expected.

The team has been using a vehicle loaned by the neighbouring Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team.

The Holme Valley team, which is based in Marsden near Huddersfield and covers the southern part of West Yorkshire, said the control vehicle is essential to its work. A new one will cost £60,000.

Mr Phillips said: “The control van is a vital link in supporting the majority of our operations, providing a space for controllers to co-ordinate a search or rescue effort, wherever it happens to be, together with the vital IT and communications equipment which we need to manage operations efficiently and liaise with our partners in the police and ambulance service.

“The van also carries much needed welfare facilities to support our volunteers in between taskings, when they return to control.”

Last year’s incident left the 40-strong team without the control van. The team leader said: “It turned out that what we thought was relatively minor damage was going to cost an arm and a leg to repair.

“To us it was a purpose-built and kitted-out control van with huge intrinsic value, but as far as the insurance company was concerned, it was just a 16-year-old panel van.

Damage to the vehicle proved too costly to repair

Damage to the vehicle proved too costly to repair

“We wanted to do anything we could to avoid major expense to the team, so we looked into independent repair costs, but soon came to the conclusion that spending thousands of pounds keeping an aged vehicle on the road just wasn’t a sensible or justifiable use of charitable funds.”

The Holme Valley team is now looking to fund-raise to put a brand new, purpose-built vehicle back into service. In an attempt to reach the £60,000 to buy and convert a new vehicle, the team has launched an eight-week crowdfunding campaign.

The proposed new vehicle will feature a 4×4 chassis to help get the vehicle wherever it is needed; modern digital communications kit to manage operations and monitor progress in real time; advanced power systems to keep running for the duration of an incident; stretcher-carrying facilities to transport patients safely, if required; and built-in welfare facilities to keep team members working more effectively, for longer.

Mr Phillips said: “We are hugely grateful to our friends at Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team for lending us their old van and offering their experience with the design of our new one.

“It was unbelievably lucky that Calder Valley SRT put their new vehicle on the road when they did, meaning their old van’s working life could be extended a little longer to help us out with our shortfall.

“We are seeing this unfortunate incident as a great opportunity to design and build, from scratch, a vehicle that precisely suits our needs.

“We have looked at this from every angle, chatted to suppliers and converters, consulted with other teams around the country who have run similar projects and learned what didn’t work for us in the past and remembered what did.

“This is an opportunity to create a vehicle that will allow us to manage operations more effectively, respond better, work slicker – and ultimately help to make a difference to more peoples’ lives, saving life and limb well into the future.”

The volunteer team, which responded to 78 emergency calls last year, prides itself on the diversity of calls it responds to.

From barren moorland, to rolling farmland, woods, parks and even urban areas, the team helps the police with missing person searches and supports the ambulance service with difficult-access casualties, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The team has over 40 on-call volunteers, thousands of items of equipment, and, ordinarily, three emergency vehicles: two 4×4 response vehicles and the incident control van.

Donations toward the cost of the new vehicle can be made via the team’s Crowdfunder page.

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