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Search and rescue capabilities in the Falklands enhanced by visiting team from Scotland

The Falkland Islands Defence Force is being trained by members of Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue.

Major Dan Biggs, Officer Commanding of the FIDF, said: “There has been a search and rescue role in the Force for a long time and we have a very basic function. But this is bringing far, far more knowledge and experience to the team.”

The relationship between the two groups began during the pandemic with the FIDF joining the Melrose-based team for online training sessions.

The donation of two mountain stretchers to the FIDF followed in 2023 and Major Biggs said a visit from the Scots team seemed “the next logical step.”

During the visit, the FIDF is being taught how to use the donated stretchers, starting in a classroom setting and moving on to practical sessions in the hills.

Dave Wright is the incident manager for Tweed Valley and one of four visiting from the Borders team. He said the donated stretchers are perfect for the FIDF:

“These stretchers are no way near end of life. The only difference between these and the ones we’ve moved to is the weight but the FIDF team is big and strong so a 20kg stretcher shouldn’t be too much of a drama for them.”

Inside learning was then moved out to the hills where FIDF members were shown how to lower the stretchers down steep rock face under the eyes of the visiting team.

The FIDF learn how to lower the mountain stretcher down steep rock face

One of the reasons why Tweed Valley MRT was specifically chosen is the similarities between their patch and the Falklands.

“We are not, in Tweed Valley, a high-mountain team,” explained Dave.

“We’re talking about large expanses of open areas with tracks, remote farms, and the demographics of the population we serve in the remote Scottish borders are very similar. We’ve got lone farm workers working, remote communities, so there are large similarities between the Falklands and our patch.”

As well as rescue techniques, wider conversations on how the FIDF can fit in with the existing SAR framework in the Falklands were opened up.

“We’re looking at how the whole search and rescue community can build a resilient approach to deal with any incident that may come up,” said Dave.

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