Volunteers in British mountain rescue: responding to increasing demand for rescues and a changed relationship with the state

Mountain rescue (MR) teams in Britain are run entirely by volunteers. The number of MR callouts has increased, partly because teams are increasingly being used by the police in searches for missing people in non-mountainous areas. Most MR teams feel they are coping with the increased
demand although some are becoming selective about which call-outs they respond to. A survey of MR team members and potential recruits reveals a mismatch between potential members’ expectation of being engaged in MR and the reality of the increased work supporting non-mountain incidents. This
illustrates a potential strain in the motivations of volunteers being used to deliver public services. This article explores how this is particular to the type of volunteering involved in MR, how teams have coped with the increased demand and how the increased use of MR teams is partly a response
to changed police management practices.

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