The South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association (SEMRA) is an emergency, around the clock voluntary search and rescue team that covers all the mountains of the south east every day of the year. The team consists of 38 experienced and unpaid volunteers trained to professional standards, many of whom live in the Tipperary region. On this Friday, 28th and Saturday, 29th the association’s annual collection will be held in Clonmel town centre.
SEMRA has responded to 15 callouts so far this year and within the space of one week recently it dealt with three callouts in the Galtee mountains. As well as responding to search and rescue emergencies the team assists those cut off by bad weather, bringing food and supplies to those affected; transporting elderly and severely ill patients to hospital; and rescuing motorists trapped by sudden and severe snowstorms. Mountain Rescue services in Ireland are provided free of charge to those in need of assistance.
According to SEMRA team leader Michael Power “the operating costs of a mountain rescue team are, as you can imagine, quite significant. All of the equipment used by the team has a finite shelf life and therefore needs to be replaced on an ongoing basis. Add to this the cost of vehicle maintenance, diesel, training, insurance etc. and it’s easy to see how costs can mount. Our running costs are met by a government grant and the balance (about two thirds) by donations and fundraising. This year our government funding has been cut by 40%, which we need to replace by extra fundraising”.