Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team has a training exercise every month, with different themes according to the skills and practices which are needed for team members. Each year, we try to have a training day with the HM Coastguard helicopter based in Dalcross, just outside Inverness and last Sunday was an opportunity to train with the crew of the search and rescue helicopter.

Winching team members up into the aircraft (particularly for new recruits) is an essential part of the training as is the control of a stretcher being winched from potentially steep or difficult terrain. The fields outside the team base in Dundonnell are an ideal venue for training in benign terrain, with time and space to go through the necessary procedures.

Having completed the training with the crew of the helicopter, there was also an opportunity to practice setting off parachute flares, sometimes used in night searches to assist in locating casualties.

The photographs below are a short series taken whilst working the the helicopter and are followed by a series of one minute videos of winch practice, stretcher winching and setting off flares... Enjoy the photographs - and the videos are best viewed in full screen mode.

Winchman at the ready
Preparing for winching
At the top of the winch and at the door
Going down again
Steady as she goes
The stretcher on the way up to the helicopter
Controlling the wire