On Saturday 16th September, Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team’s purpose-designed new base was officially opened by the legendary fell-runner and Team Vice-President, Jos Naylor MBE.
You can watch the video here https://vimeo.com/290675469/6f7d35f9d3
The base, which is near Gosforth in Copeland has cost £643,000 and has taken several years to achieve. It was made possible after an allocation from the Copeland Community Fund (CCF) of £218,000, funding from the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association (LDSAMRA) Rescue 2020 Fund of £12,000 and an interest in land granted by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The remaining £413,000 has been met by the team from donations and fundraising.
After 40 years in the village of Gosforth the team decided a few years ago that they had outgrown their previous base behind a local pub. The project started in earnest in 2014, when significant funds were raised and the team realised that a new base was becoming affordable. In that year, Adam Nolan’s dog Jasper went missing in the team’s “patch” but was found by a member of the public and then rescued by the team. The subsequent social media campaign went viral and raised over £51,000 plus Gift Aid for the team. In addition, an unexpected legacy from a local woman became the catalyst for action.
The new base is a modern, fit for purpose building with enhanced training and welfare facilities, communications and accessibility to the A595. Much thought went into the design of the building and one of the significant early activities was a bit of MR tourism, which involved visiting several bases in the Lake District to learn from the great features that they had and asking questions about what features they would change if they had to design it again. This then led to a formal ergonomic study, which determined that the main entrance would be primarily for those responsible for command & control and that most team members would enter the building via a second entrance to a changing and gear-up room. Members would be informed of incident details, MRMap feeds via large screens to show deployment details before heading out directly into the garage and gear store area.
Construction from cutting the first sod in April 2017 took just over 15 months and was carried out by a local firm, Roland Hill Limited. The base went live in mid-August 2018 and on the same day the first callout was recorded. Since then the new base has seen 13 incidents recorded before the official opening.
There are a number of definitive features such as the heating system, which is supplied by a very efficient ground-source heat pump supplemented by roof-mounted PV panels. The ground floor is heated by an underfloor array, which means that it is always dry, which is a major change from the cold and damp converted forge that the team used to operate from. The temperature of the base has a threshold level that can be raised to operational level via a mobile phone app. In addition to a large wet room and drying area, there is also a separate under-cover wash-down area, a retractable 18-metre mast for digital radio communications, automatic up-and-over thermally efficient garage doors, quiet diesel powered emergency generator as well as the latest Wi-Fi and building security access.
On the rest of the land, there is a mini-hill feature made out of the foundation spoil with trees and rocks to act as a training area and simulate difficult extrication / evacuation of casualties. In the furthest part of the land away from the base there is a grass area that has planning permission for helicopter landing. Great North Air Ambulance commissioned the area by landing in the field on the official opening day; unfortunately their lunch invitation was cut short by the inevitable callout!