Wales

Brecon mountain rescuers to trial drone and sonar

Brecon Mountain Rescue Team out in the snow

Brecon Mountain Rescue Team is to trial new technology, including drones and sonar, as the service deals with another record year of callouts.

The increase in demand seen by rescuers from across Wales has been blamed on several factors, including more people exploring the outdoors.

Brecon MRT hopes new equipment will improve its response to incidents and lead to positive outcomes.

It is recruiting seven more volunteers to meet growing demand on its service.

Up to last week, the team had spent 4,784 hours on 122 searches in 2017, compared with 121 in 2016.

It hopes to begin testing sonar equipment and a drone in the hope the devices may help cut search hours in future.

Deputy team leader Dave Coombes said the adapted sonar technology, which is normally used by anglers to find fish, would be used to map and record dangerous parts of rivers.

"So when we then go and search an area we can compare the maps we've made with the day of the incident and see if there are any anomalies which might guide us where to search," he said.

In north Wales, Llanberis Mountain Rescue has seen a record year with 220 incidents, although there are still three weeks of December still to go. It had slightly fewer callouts last year.

Aberglaslyn Mountain Rescue Team, which covers parts of Snowdonia and north west Wales, has dealt with 70 incidents since January, up from about 50 in 2016.

North East Wales Search and Rescue has attended 78 incidents compared with 55 last year, while Aberdyfi Search and Rescue Team, which covers Snowdonia and mid Wales, has attended 43 incidents so far, compared with 40 in 2016.

Its spokesman, Dave Williams, said people should be better prepared and not rely solely on their mobile phones for navigation and its inbuilt torch.

Llanberis Mountain Rescue chairman John Grisdale said people being inexperienced and not having the right equipment was still a problem.

He advised people to "pay respect to the mountain and be prepared".

Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team has recorded its busiest 12 months with 135 callouts, up from more than 110 last year.

A spokesman said it was to be expected, given more people were out and about.

However, it had also seen an increase in calls to help the emergency services search for "despondent" people along with several more animal rescues.

Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team suffered a major fire in November which damaged its base and official vehicles, prompting a £250,000 appeal.

Its volunteers are continuing to run the service, relying on their own cars and equipment,

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