Part of being in Mountain Rescue is the commitment. The commitment to carry a pager with you and respond when you can, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every single day of the year. Even Christmas day.
Wherever I go, the pager goes. It goes on vibrate sometimes, other times it even goes on silent. But it stays on, ready to receive its little message.
At night, it sits next to the front door, where it has reception. It’s piercing tone set to beep continuously until I get to it and hit a button – it’s the only way it will wake me up. It’s very loud, especially in the early hours of the morning.
Three nights ago, it went off and interrupted my sleep. Meh, it happens. I can’t respond during nights this week – I’ve got a big project to finish off at work and sadly, Mountain Rescue doesn’t pay the bills. So, when the pager woke me at 0631 on Tuesday morning, I wordlessly padded downstairs, turned it off, set it to silent – because I knew there’d be more messages – and went back to sleep. It was a search in Carmarthenshire – no way I was going to get there and do anything useful before work.
Wednesday morning, it was about 0145 when it went off. This time, it was followed rapidly by a “555″ message – stand down. Fine, back to sleep, grumbling lightly.
This morning it was 0146 when the initial alert came through. Frustrated and tired, I shut it up and went back to sleep. 0200 the message came through – missing person in Caerphilly, all of a 3 minute drive away. Ten minutes later – stand down.
Can I get a decent night’s sleep tonight please?