Meet Sarah

This #VolunteersWeek we're launching a new blog series about our fantastic volunteers starting with Team Secretary - Sarah Garner

Posted by David O'Sullivan on June 04, 2019

This is the first in a new blog series for the team, we'll be talking to our members old and new to find out a bit more about them, how they're involved with the team and how they juggle being a Mountain Rescue Volunteer with their work and personal lives.

We kick the series off with Team Secretary Sarah Garner:

Do you have a day job, and if so what is it?

"Yes I do, I work full time as a Projects contracts manager for a Rail company in Birmingham."

How long have you been an Operational Member of Derby Mountain Rescue Team?

"I've been a fully operational Member of the team for just over five years now but I've been involved in Mountain Rescue via Mountain Rescue Search Dogs England for over eight years, so in Mountain Rescue terms I'm still a newbie."

What positions/rolls/skills do you hold in Mountain Rescue?

"Operationally I'm a team driver, Advanced first-aider (MRE&W Casualty Carer), DEFRA Module 3 Swiftwater Rescue Technician and a Water Team Leader. I'm currently in training to become a party leader.
These roles all have additional training and responsibility on top of the standard training - seeing it written down makes me wonder how I fit it all in. On top of that I am currently the team secretary"

How long did the training take to become operational?

"Twelve months but I was particularly lucky that I have a brilliant training cohort and we supported each other through the training so we all qualified pretty quickly."

Why did you apply to be a volunteer for Mountain Rescue?

"When I'm drowning in a pile of team admin I sometimes wonder at that. When I was younger my Air cadet group used to do a lot of hill-walking and I spent one summer camp with the RAF mountain rescue team up at Kinloss (that's a long time ago now) so I've always been aware of what mountain rescue do and wanted to get involved but as with a lot of things life gets in the way - fast forward a decade or two and I started volunteering as a dogsbody for the search dogs because it was something I could do, but there was no way I could ever join a rescue team... after a couple of years one of the dog handlers persuaded me to put my application in to Derby team; so I did, never thinking for two seconds I would get through the application process. The rest, as they say, is history and I am so very glad I did join the team being able to help people in an environment that I love to be in is incredibly rewarding."

What have you learnt about yourself?

"Oh so very much - but mainly that I am capable of far far more than I thought I was. Since I've been involved with the team I have gone from being very shy and totally lacking in confidence to Winter skills courses in Scotland and Trekking in Nepal things I had dreamt of doing but never thought I would. Even driving the team vehicles reminds me how far I have come. It has made me a lot more confident at work as well and the leadership skills I have learned from being in the team I use to make me a better manager."

What has surprised you the most about Mountain Rescue?

"The breadth of work we do from the urban call outs and flood rescue to the crag and hill rescues"

What is your favourite thing about Mountain Rescue?

"I'm not allowed to say riding round in a team vehicle with the blue lights on am I? The team is my favourite thing about being in MR. People talk about an MR family and it's very true, I have a wide network of friends across the country and if there's a problem then I know as least one of them can help but it's more usually several.
I am very proud of my team and the wider MR community, and what we all achieve."

What is the hardest aspect of Mountain Rescue?

"Accepting that we can't find or help everyone, I really struggle with going on a search an not finding the person, even though I know we've helped by clearing an area. Motivating yourself to go on a callout when you've had a full day at work, you're tired and chances are you will be out all night searching can also be difficult.
There is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on to keep the team funded and running, I want to be outside not in front of a computer but it needs to be done to ensure we can continue to provide this amazing service."

Are there any particular incidents that will stay with you (good or bad)?

"There are many callouts that I remember for different reasons, but I don't really want to go into detail. In general, I'm always amazed by how the other emergency services look to Mountain Rescue for our expert skills and advice. It's a real testament to the competency and professionalism of Mountain Rescue Volunteer Teams across the country.
The 'magic' of my red jacket has given me a confidence and ability I didn't know I had and of course for this old Air Cadet getting to work with the helicopters after all this time makes me smile."


A big thanks to Sarah for sharing her thoughts on being a Mountain Rescue Volunteer.
You can support the team by joining our Supporters Group, or donating to the team to help us continue to provide our services to the community - Thank you!