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Walkers stroll into the path of army shells

WALKERS regularly had to be rescued after straying on to an Co Wicklow army firing range last year.

This, and getting lost, made up one in 10 of the incidents dealt with by the Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) last year.

Five out of 51 incidents dealt with by the Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue Team involved walkers wrongly descending the Co Wicklow mountain walk routes towards the army exercise area in the Glen of Imaal.

Once here, the walkers wandered into the artillery zone.

Two days after Christmas, five hill walkers had to be rescued after they became disoriented in fading light and walked into the target area where army gunners fire 105mm artillery and 120mm heavy mortars.

"They were located using their smart phone in conjunction with SARLOC, the custom built mountain rescue GPS location software," a rescue team spokesman said. "Defence Forces personnel escorted them safely."

The MRT's base in Trooperstown Woods, near Laragh, Co Wicklow, was officially opened during the year.

The figures show 51 'callouts' where a member of the public dialled 999 or 112 and asked for assistance.







Death

Some 65 people were helped and only two out of the 51 incidents were false alarms -- neither malicious, merely mistaken, the spokesman said.

The weather played a smaller role during 2012, with only one snow-related incident and two flood-related.

"Tragically, one of the flood incidents resulted in the death of man when he was swept down the Avonmore near The-Meetings-Of-The-Waters," the spokesman added.The MRT encouraged members of the public "to prepare themselves adequately for whatever challenges they take on".

In one incident, on March 20, four people on the Sugar Loaf called for help at 3am.

"They reported one with panic attacks and one sick. It appeared to be alcohol/drug related," Mountain Rescue said. "Gardai brought them down."

In another incident, on May 28, the MRT helped three students who were part of a school group enjoying the fine weather in the Wicklow mountains.

The injured teenagers were hiking around the Glendalough valley when a girl and two boys sustained leg injuries. They were airlifted to safety.

mlavery@herald.ie