GAI 1014 Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service

This report was loaned to the MRA by Lossiemouth MRT May 2022 It was digitized by Brian Canfer into MS Word so that it could be uploaded to the MRA website by Jim Morrison, March 2024.

See the relevance of this document by viewing the article High Court Judgement on Red Tarn Case”

RAF GAI 1014

(DD MAR & HELS 400/21)
(This GAI replaces RAF GAI 101·1 dated March 1992) and will be reviewed in1995


  1. The RAF Mountain Rescue Service (MRS) forms part of the Search and Rescue organization described in ATP 10; it is composed of mountain rescue teams (MRTs) at the following RAF stations; Kinloss, Leuchars, Valley, Stafford. Leeming and St Athan.
  1. RAF MRTs are trained and equipped to search for, rescue, and where necessary administer Immediate, and Emergency Care (IEC) to crews and passengers of aircraft. that have crushed or made a forced landing and to Service personnel needing assistance while engaged on training in remote areas. In the event of a military aircraft accident anywhere in the UI, RAF MRTs are, as part of the RAF’s post-crash management policy, to provide crash guards for the first 24 hrs or as specified by the controlling RCC. However, if the accident is within 5nm of a military airfield then that station will normally provide the crash guard. The six MRTs are Initial Response Forces for Operation BANKNOTE. Where calls are made on the MRS to provide assistance in other incidents, help is to be given as an act of grace, subject to Service requirements and at the discretion of the RCC concerned. Teams are highly mobile and are equipped with specialist vehicles with an off-road capability, additionally the teams are in the main capable of deployment by air albeit the larger support vehicles will require either specialist airlift or routine road deployment.
  1. All RAF MRS personnel are volunteers. Each team has a Team Leader (TL) and four personnel specifically established for full time mountain rescue duties; the other team members (part-time) undertake such duties in addition to their normal station tasks. Teams are on call at all times and team members devote a considerable part of their spare time to training in order to attain the high standard of fitness and proficiency necessary for work under the most arduous and exacting- conditions. When carrying out MRS activities. including Search_ And Rescue Dog Association (SARDA) callouts, all personnel are on duty and are subject to normal service discipline. ln view of the great amount of extra duty time, especially at weekends. that MRT personnel spend on mountain rescue training, they are to be exempt from all station (including guarding/security) duties.
  1. MRTs must rely on other sections for support, in particular by releasing part-time team members for callouts and training courses. It is especially important, therefore. that the parent Station Commander should encourage close liaison between the MRT and the rest of the station so that a satisfactory state of preparedness and operational efficiency may be achieved. To ensure that personnel respond quickly to rescue operations full-time MRT members are not to take part in station exercises nor is equipment, including vehicles, to be so utilized without the prior approval of the controlling RCC.
  1. Control of Operations. The teams are controlled on operations by the appropriate RCC. The RCC will also normally take the initiative in alerting and dispatching a team or teams to an incident. The RCCs concerned are located at:

a. Rescue Co-ordination Edinburgh RAF Pitreavie Castle, Dunfermline, Fife. Tele µhone 0383 41 21G1. Fax 0383 419653.

b. Rescue Co-ordination Center Plymouth Mount Wise, Plymouth, Devon. Telephone 0752 501150. Fax 0752 229654.

c. MRT Areas. The primary operational and training areas of all teams are listed
at the end of this GAI. They are also to hold exercises outside their areas to gain wider experience: during rescue operations RCCs will deploy the most appropriate team or combination of teams.



a. Overall responsibility for RAF Search and Rescue (SAR) policy rests with MOD (AFD). The Inspector of Land Rescue (RAF) (SAR 1 b) is the Operational Sponsor and is responsible, on behalf of MOD(AFD), for the operational and training policy of the MRS and for LTC funding of MRS equipment scales. Additionally, DGMSC is responsible for approving IEC training courses and associated MECCA scales.

b. The MRS is under the Full Command of AOC in C Strike Command who exercises

(1) Operational Command and Control. Operational Command and Control of all teams whilst they are on operations or training, through AOC 18 Gp, who delegates operational control to Air Cdr Pitreavie.

(2) Disciplinary Command. Disciplinary Command of MRT permanent staff. and part-time personnel when employed on MRT duties, through AOC18 Gp and relevant Station Commanders.

(3) Administrative and Engineering Command and Control. Administrative and Engineering Command and Control through AOC 18 Gp and relevant station Commanders.

c. Commands. Commands are to implement the overall SAR policy for MRTs.

d. HQ 18 Gp.

(l) In addition to the HQ 18 Cp staff, WO MRS is the MRS Chief Instructor responsible, inter alia, for operational standards and practices.

(2) The six MRTs arc 18 Gp lodger units. The five permanent members of each team are l8 Gp personnel.

e. Rescue Co-ordination Centers. Operational control of MRTs is delegated to the appropriate RCC, through HQ 18 Gp,

f. Parent Stations. Parent Stations are to provide support to their MRT to
maintain it at a fully operational state.

g The RAF Personnel Management Center (RAF PMC). RAF PMC is responsible for

(1) The manning of MRTs in accordance with AP 3392 Vol 2 Leaflet 1552.

(2) Promulgating the procedure for personnel volunteering for mountain rescue duties and issuing written guidance to all trialists.

(3) Drafting and screening successful trialists.

8. Manning of the MRS. MRTs at Kinloss, Leuchars and Valley are authorized for a total of 36 members; MRTs at Leeming, Stafford and St Athan are authorized for a total of 25 members. Any officer or airman may volunteer for duty with a team at their station. Each team is manned as follows:

a. Liaison Officer. The station commander is to appoint an officer as MRT Liaison Officer (MRTLO) to the MRT, the MRTLO is to have a minimum of five years productive service and should normally be of Flt Lt rank. HQ 18 Gp will, on request, provide written guidance to the MRTLO as to the wide range of his duties and responsibilities. The MRTLO or his deputy is to attend all military aircraft accidents to which the MRT is called, and he is initially responsible for handling the media in accordance with AP l00Vll Order 0204. Specialist MRT media training is to be undertaken.

b. Full Time Staff Establishment . Publication No 3 authorizes the full-time employment of the necessary tradesmen to fill established posts at MRT stations. The permanent staff consists of the team leader who is a SNCO (FS for the larger teams and Ch Tech, or Sgt for the other teams), two JNCOs, one of whom is the nominated deputy and two airmen. The permanent staff can be from any trade group and will be selected on their previous MR experience. AOC 18 Gp is responsible for appointing Team Leaders, Team leaders are responsible for appointing the other four permanent staff; all such appointments are subject to PMC approval.

c. Part-time Volunteers. Personnel forming the body of the team are normally service volunteers drawn from established posts to make up the total strength

d. Civilian Members. Where a Team leader is unable to recruit sufficient service personnel to fill an established part-time position civilian volunteers may be used, subject to the prior approval of HQ 18 Gp. Such membership does not constitute employment nor attract any payment. Civilian team members will be entitled to the same scale of Mountain Rescue equipment and rations as service members and will subject to the same orders and procedures. They do not need to complete any indemnity forms to fly on service SAR aircraft, their inclusion on the teams nominal roll is sufficient for them to be considered to be on unpaid RAF MR duties

e. Search Dogs. A fully trained search dog, trained in accordance with SARDA schedules, is as effective as 20 human searchers. Whilst MOD will not fund the purchase and veterinary costs of such dogs the Travel and subsistence costs of MRS handlers attending SARDA courses and operational callouts will be met from public funds.

9. Team membership. RAF PMC will consider applications from any officer, airman or airwoman for training in mountain rescue: applications must be, forwarded to PMC and are not to be stopped at section or station level. The procedure for airman volunteers is described in AP 3392. Officers wishing to volunteer for posting for part-time duty with an MRT should contact HQ 18 Gp SAR staff. There must normally be an established vacancy in the volunteer’s rank and trade at the station of his choice before he can be posted. After an initial trial, personnel who are selected and who undertake the duty, will be given a thorough training to a high standard in all aspects of mountaineering. Once they have completed six months training and satisfied their Team Leader of their determination and motivation they will be awarded the MRS arm badge. Further training and satisfactory completion of the Trained Test are required before the award of the annotation X-842. This training takes average two years to complete. All training is to be recorded in the MRS Training Record and this is to be held until five years after award of the X annotation. An MRS Log Book is also to be completed and is an accountable document.

Operational Procedures

10. Scales of Readiness. During normal readiness the teams may carry out routine training in the field, or normal primary duties on the station. A reduced state of readiness is used to allow weekend and grant training. For Royal Flights, aircraft accidents, or imminent rescue operations, the RCC may order the teams to increased states of readiness as detailed in RA.F GAJ J 1001. The readiness states for the MRS are:

a. State 1 (SAR Cover). The MRT is ready to move and may be deployed to a forward base.

b. State 2 Immediate Readiness). The MRT is to be at five minutes readiness.

c. State 3 (Advanced Readiness). The MRT is to be at 30 minutes readiness.

d. State 4 (normal readiness) The MRT to be at one hours readiness.
This is the normal standby except for weekends and grant periods.

d. State (Weekend and Grant Training). While conducting deployed training the MRT may take more than one hour to redeploy.

11. Call Out. Instructions to call an RAF MRT and proceed to an incident will normally come from the RCC. Requests for assistance may be received from other sources, such as the police, civilian rescue authorities, or members of the public. Before proceeding on such a call out, the approval of the RCC is to be sought. Exceptionally, if this is not possible, the approval of the RCC is to be obtained at the first opportunity.

a. Forward Operating Base. When called out to an incident the team is to establish a forward operations base. In the event of a major incident this operations base may be co-located with the Police Incident Post. When more than one team is deployed the RCC will appoint an On Scene Commander (OSC). Communication is to be maintained with the RCC, which is to exercise overall control. The search is to continue until the whole of the area allocated by the RCC has been covered. The team leaders are responsible for:

(1) The direction and co-ordination of all military land-based search
and rescue at the scene of the incident.

(2) Ensuring that all non-MRT personnel working in the area of a crash site are made aware of the potential dangers of operating on steep ground or in adverse weather conditions.

b. Military Aircraft Accidents For incidents involving military aircraft the RCC will normally callout a minimum of two RAF MRTs. Confirmation of the identity and location of an aircraft crash is to be passed to the RCC without delay.

c. SARDA Callouts. All requests for the use of an MRS SARDA dog are to be requested to the controlling RCC; unless the RCC has prior knowledge of a military requirement the dog and handler will normally be cleared to respond. If SARDA cannot provide a safety man to accompany the handler the team leader will normally provide safety cover and may at his discretion, provide a team vehicle. Personnel released for SARDA duties maybe recalled at any time if required by the RCC for a military task.

12 Royal Flights. When a team is notified that a Royal flight will pass over its area it is to assume the readiness state ordered by the RCC. The normal readiness state for Royal flights is State 4.

13. Reduced Operational State. A team is considered to be non-operational if it has less than 12 members available for operational tasking. If a team cannot achieve the tasked readiness stale the appropriate RCC is to be notified and MOD SAR1b/ILR and HQ 18 GP informed. The same addressees are to be informed when the team has regained its operational capability.

14. Communications. In order to maintain communications between RCCs SAR aircraft and other MRTs. each team is provided with a Command, Control and Communications vehicle. None of the communication equipment is secure and it should be assumed that at all incidents the media will be monitoring all lines of communication.


15. Lectures. Weekly briefings are to be held when details are given of forthcoming exercises; briefings should normally be followed by a lecture. Lectures are to reflect the requirements of the MR Training Syllabus and lecturers are to be authorities on their subjects but need not be MRS members.

16. Routine Exercises. Routine training exercises are to be undertaken in all weathers. by day and night, in all parts of a team’s area: these exercises are usually carried out at weekends. Exercises should total at least eight full days each month; a night exercise is to be carried out once per quarter. In order to keep fit and cover the training syllabus, each team member is normally expected to attend two thirds of his team’s exercises and lectures. Due to the essential and diverse nature of training which is frequently interrupted by callouts, Team Leaders are, as far as possible. to comply with the spirit of Joint Service regulations for training in specific areas e.g. Wales, Scotland and Dartmoor. Land owners prior permission is always to be obtained. MOD SAR1b/ILR is responsible for negotiations with the Joint Service training agencies and Defence Land Agents. Local arrangements are to be made so that airmen who volunteer for this additional duty can be released from their primary duties to join their teams for training. A Joint SAREX involving at least three MRTs will normally be held every six months, HQ 18 Gp WOMRS is responsible for planning and co-ordinating these exercises.

17. Internal Residential courses. The RAF MRS carries out three annual residential courses. Team Leaders are required to instruct during MRS courses: –

(a) Summer Course, principally for rock climbing

(b) Winter Course, principally for snow and ice climbing.

(c)     Advanced Mountain Rescue Course.

The Summer and Winter Courses last two weeks and are designed to develop and standardize safe climbing and rescue techniques. The prime purpose of these courses is to bring on relatively inexperienced members during a sustained training period. The seven day Advanced course provides an opportunity for trained members to enlarge their knowledge of MR organization. rescue techniques and also practise control of large scale exercises.

18. A Team Leaders course is held every two years or as required, to provide an in-depth appreciation of all aspects of MR activities. If appropriate a selection weekend will be held to reduce the number of applicants to match the course input figure of six. The course comprises 7 days instruction followed by 7 days assessment.

19 External Courses. In addition to being eligible to attend any of the single service or Joint service Rock Climbing or instructors Courses team members are also eligible, through their team leader to attend the following specialist external Service and Civilian courses: –

a. IHMT SAR IEC Basic Course or civilian equivalent.

b. AIEC Course.

c. RAF Training Development & Support Unit (TOSU) MRT Media Course.
d. TDSU MRT Instructional Techniques Course.
e. Mountain Leader Certificate(MLC)-Summer.

f. MLC-Winter.
g. Mountain Instructor Award.

h. Mountain Instructor Certificate.
i. SARDA training and assessment.

Bids for these course are to be via HQ18 Gp WO MRS.

20. The RAF MRS fulfils the majority of its training requirements from within its own resources. To ensure that the highest standards are maintained it is essential that station commanders fully support attendance on the training courses by releasing suitable team members as required.


21. F6112. When compiling F6112 on part-time MRT members, Section and Flight Commanders arc to consult the Team Leader on the subject airman’s performance.

a. The reporting chain for the Team Leader is as follows: –

(1) 1st RO. MRTLO

(2) 2nd RO. 18 Gp.

(3) 3rd RO. Parent Station.

b. The reporting chain for the other PS is as follows

(1) 1st RO. Team Leader.

(2) 2nd RO. MRTLO.

(3) 3rd RO. Parent Station.

22 Accommodation. Each team is to be allocated accommodation on its station for the storage, drying and repair or equipment, vehicle parking, lectures and briefing. Details of this requirement are published by MOD (Directorate of Quartering (RAF).

23. Equipment. The scales of equipment for teams are published in AP 1827 and AP 830. In addition, a number of specialist items are available only by Local Purchase Order (LPO). It is most important that all equipment is maintained in a high state of serviceability in view of the team’s high readiness state and the need for absolute reliability during operations and training.

24. Badges. Upon its award by the Team Leader the appropriate arm badge is to be worn on the right sleeve two inches above the cuff·

25. Rations. The supplementary ration and CILOR entitlement for teams members and the conditions for its issue ;are contained in AP 3344. Search Dogs which are either fully trained or undergoing SARDA training may be rationed from public funds.

26 Reports. MRTs are to submit the following reports:

a. Quarterly Training Reports (RAF form 4427). RAF F 4427 is to contain brief details of all training exercises and call-outs. Teams are to describe in part 5 any persistent problems affecting their operational state. it is to be forwarded to HQ 18 Gp via WOMRS at the end of each quarter.

b. Monthly Nominal Roll. A nominal roll of team strength is to be sent on the 1st of each month RAF PMC(P Man 6d)( DL). with copies to HQ18 Gp, other MRS TLs, parent station commanders and appropriate parent station staff.

c. Incident Report. An incident report (report ‘A’) to be forwarded to MOD SAR 1, HQ 18 Gp, WOMRS, RCCs and other· appropriate staff as required. When civilian authorities request information on MRS operational activities, MOD SAR1 is to be contacted for guidance.

d. Form R. A Form R is to be completed after each call-out in accordance with Brit Sup I to ATP-10.

e. Movement Signal. A movement signal is to be dispatched 48 hrs before all team training; deployments in the format shown in Brit. Sup I to ATP-10.

27. Signals All signals to MOD SAR staffs are to use  SICs in the  (. block.

Mountain Rescue Areas.

The primary operational and training areas for MRTs are as follows: –




Stafford .


St Athan

Grampian, Highland.

Tayside, Fife, Strathclyde, central Lothian, Dumfries and Galloway

Northumberland, Durham, Cumbria, Yorkshire

Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Stafford, Salop, Hereford and Worcester

Gwynedd, Clwyd.

Powys, Dyfed. Gwent, Glamorgan, Devon, Cornwall.

Crash Guarding in other i.e. non mountainous areas will be carried out by the nearest available MRT. Each team is to liaise directly with other civilian rescue agencies within its operational and training areas.

29. This GAI is to be read in conjunction with RAF GAI J 1001 and will be reviewed in 1995.


Editor The author of this GAI was Brian Canfer

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