Penrith MRT member Keith Hill

Penrith MRT member Keith Hill

A volunteer with a Cumbrian mountain rescue team will this month head out to China to help with safety at the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Keith Hill will be the only UK-based ski patroller supporting the games.

The 53-year-old, who lives in Bampton on the eastern edge of the Lake District, is a member of Penrith Mountain Rescue Team.

Mr Hill said: “If all goes well on the travel arrangements, I’ll be leaving the UK on 22 January and spending a total of nearly seven weeks in China covering the two events.

“I’ve been responsible for midweek ski patrol in Glen Coe in Scotland for over 20 years and am active in the British Association of Ski Patrollers and its international equivalent. It’s through those contacts that the Olympic Committee’s request for a ski patrol team to work in Beijing came through to me and I am honoured to be involved.”

The role of ski patrol involves being responsible for first aid on the mountains and Mr Hill will be working on the downhill and slope-style events. He will also have responsibility for some aspects of the courses such as barriers and safety precautions.

“There’s plenty of heavy fetching and carrying on steep slopes as well as using my casualty care background to deal with potentially serious injuries,” he said, “so there are a lot of similarities with being a volunteer in mountain rescue.”

Mr Hill joined Penrith MRT as a probationer at the start of 2020, before the pandemic, and became a full member of the team in 2021. His day job is as a trainer on outdoor first aid courses, combined with the ski patrol role in Glen Coe when the slopes are open. He joined the team with considerable first aid and other related experience and he successfully completed the mountain rescue casualty care qualification in May 2021.

He said: “The role at the Olympics is going to bring together a lot of the different things that I do.

“There’ll be language challenges, I’m sure, but working with colleagues from a range of countries will give the opportunity to see and discuss different approaches. I’m looking forward to being part of such a huge global event and seeing China first-hand.”

Penrith MRT covers an area of about 1,600 sq miles, extending from the far eastern fells of the Lake District across to the North Pennines and all the way up to the Scottish border.

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