We support those on whom it depends to save human lives
From the beginning of 2022, Glavbolgarstroy launched a series of donation initiatives in support of the Mountain Rescue Service of the Bulgarian Red Cross, embracing the cause of renewal and modernization of the professional equipment of the rescue teams.
In addition to providing financial support for the renewal and modernization of professional equipment for rescue teams, whose prompt actions in 2022 alone led to the successful rescue of 2,600 individuals in the mountains, in August 2023 the construction holding further aided the Mountain Rescue Service by procuring a repeater for their operations.
Eleonora Toteva, PR Manager at Glavbolgarstroy, handed over the repeater to Emil Neshev, the director of the Mountain Rescue Service
Emil Neshev, director of the Mountain Rescue Service, comments on what construction and mountain rescue have in common and the societal significance of the Mountain Rescue Service.
- The mountain rescuers in Bulgaria are among the best worldwide, and the countless lives saved during mountain emergencies or disasters stand as a testament to your dedicated work. Nonetheless, little is known about the daily responsibilities of mountain rescuers. Could you elaborate on the tasks performed by the Mountain Rescue Service?
The Bulgarian Red Cross's Mountain Rescue Service comprises over 530 legally certified mountain rescuers, organized across 32 units situated at the base of the major mountain ranges in Bulgaria. Out of these, only 48 are full-time mountain rescuers, forming the core of the service. They maintain 24/7 duty across five main Mountain Rescue Service bases: Aleko in Vitosha, Bansko in Pirin, Borovets in Rila, Studenets in the Rhodopes, and the Central 24-hour post in Sofia.
For volunteer rescuers, their daily lives involve their regular jobs, while weekends find them either on duty at MRS bases and posts in the mountains or training in the mountains to stay fit. They frequently engage in specialized courses to enhance their skills and update their knowledge. Full-time rescuers manage equipment maintenance, prevention in the base areas, and upkeep of the bases themselves. They maintain round-the-clock readiness for swift and appropriate responses to incidents. They also handle phone inquiries from tourists seeking information about mountain conditions and risks.
- How will the repeater contribute to your work? How will it simplify your tasks?
Given the unique demands of mountain rescue work, effective communication is of utmost importance. In mountainous terrain, relying on mobile operators for communication is often unfeasible due to the rugged and remote landscape, resulting in weak signals and inadequate communication between ground rescuers and team leaders. A reliable radio link is the only dependable means of communication for rescue teams. Constructing a robust radio network covering mountain areas is essential. Many of our operations occur in challenging and perilous environments, often accompanied by adverse weather conditions. Reliable radio communication significantly enhances the chances of successful rescue operations, providing added security for rescuers and expediting the delivery of timely assistance to the injured.
- Over the last two years, Glavbolgarstroy has been a prominent supporter, aiding MRS in equipment replacement and modernization for mountain rescuers. Why is equipment so critical to your operations?
Rescue operations often transpire under adverse weather conditions and on treacherous terrains, exposing mountain rescuers to substantial risks to their lives and well-being. To mitigate these dangers, MRS undertakes extensive efforts in two main directions. First, rigorous physical, technical, and tactical training ensures mountain rescuers are prepared; this comprehensive training continues throughout their active service. Second, specialized equipment safeguards rescuers from harsh weather conditions, allowing them to move more securely and offer assistance. Ensuring rescuer safety is paramount to provide a chance for timely and effective assistance to victims.
- In 2023, the Mountain Rescue Service celebrates its 90th anniversary. With nearly a century of experience, what are the primary goals for MRS in the near future?
Indeed, 90 years of aiding injured individuals in mountainous regions constitutes a significant achievement and invaluable experience. MRS has undergone various developmental phases, but the core mission of saving human lives has remained constant. Our accomplishments thus far are noteworthy and deserving of respect.
We strive for continuous improvement to better prepare ourselves for upcoming challenges. Since 1971, MRS has been a member of the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR), enabling us to stay connected with leading global rescue services and adopt the latest mountain rescue trends. Generally, our standards are high, though one of our key objectives is to establish a functional air rescue system in Bulgaria. This remains a major goal, and we are actively collaborating with the Bulgarian Army's Air Force while engaging with relevant state institutions. Our aim is to further modernize and enhance MRS to be prepared for all scenarios, thus offering greater utility and efficacy in our mission to save lives amidst mountain emergencies, accidents, and catastrophes. Securing adequate funding for MRS is also crucial, as we currently face significant challenges in this area. Operating with sponsor support has been vital, and over the last two years, Glavbolgarstroy has been one of our main sponsors, demonstrating an understanding of our difficulties. I take this opportunity to express immense gratitude on behalf of all mountain rescuers in Bulgaria, underscoring our deep appreciation for your attitude, comprehension, and backing.
The Mountain Rescue Service was established in 1933 by members of the Bulgarian Alpine Club, the Bulgarian Tourist Union, the Youth Tourist Union, and the Sofia Ski Club. Between 1933 and 1935, the service and its resources experienced significant growth. Pharmacy points were established at the Aleko, Kumata, and Momina Skala huts on Vitosha, and rescue teams, including four rescuers and a doctor, were organized. These teams were on duty at the huts during weekends, and in 1938, the first "MRS RULES" were published.
Presently, the MRS conducts operational activities with over 530 legally certified mountain rescuers, stationed across 32 units at the bases of major Bulgarian mountains. Out of these, 48 are full-time mountain rescuers who form the backbone of the service. Volunteer lifeguards contribute their services, participating in planned duties at lifeguard stations and rescue missions.