Stay Hydrated and Go at Your Own Pace
Order of Malta Ambulance Corps urges pilgrims to prepare for warm weather and high volume of people ahead of Reek Sunday climb at Croagh Patrick
Ahead of Sunday’s centuries-old ‘Reek Sunday’ pilgrimage at Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo, Westport Unit of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps has urged the expected 15,000 pilgrims to take the necessary precautions.
Since 1943, the Westport Unit of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps have co-ordinated the rescue and emergency services as pilgrims travel from Ireland and overseas to climb the 2,500 ft mountain. While numbers participating have fallen in recent years, the spell of good weather this summer is expected to attract a larger number of pilgrims this weekend, with some opting to do the climb in bare feet.
The Order of Malta Ambulance Corps Westport Unit has carried out its operations alongside the Mayo Mountain Rescue Team since 1997. This co – operation goes beyond ‘Reek’ weekend, with the two organisations working closely on the increasing number of rescue operations throughout the year. This increasing number of call-outs is representative of the dangers posed by the climb, often underestimated by the public.
Keelan Moran, spokesperson from the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps says that climbers should take extra care of themselves and children making them climb on Sunday:
“Extreme caution is urged upon all climbers given the dangers posed by the climb. Climbing conditions towards the peak have continued to deteriorate and as such, we are stressing the importance of climbers being suitably equipped for all weather, regardless of ground conditions. It is imperative that good footwear such as hiking boots be worn, along with suitable clothes and rain gear – as well as sun protection. Although temperatures are expected to be relatively high, we urge climbers to be prepared for sudden downpours or changes in the weather. All climbers should also bring a plentiful supply of water and snacks to stay comfortable and hydrated throughout the day and extra care must be taken for children on the mountain. Given the recent spell of good weather, it is important to note that while conditions may be fine on the ground, often this is not the case towards the summit.”
Moran further highlights the responsibility the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps has in ensuring the well-being of all those involved:
“Our personnel will be working both on the mountain and on the ground in Murrisk throughout the day to assist and advise pilgrims as much as possible. We ask that all climbers take note of and heed this advice. As this is such a large-scale and unpredictable event, planning has been underway for months to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone taking part. The safety of our volunteers, climbers and pilgrims is our top priority and could not be protected to such high and professional standards without the co-operation of many organisations, all of whom deserve some special mention and thanks. The Order of Malta Ambulance Corps will be providing more than 120 volunteers from throughout the country, and will be assisted by Mountain Rescue Ireland, Civil Defence teams, the Irish Air Corps, An Garda Síochana, Mayo County Council, the Murrisk Development Association, the Irish Coast Guard and Church Authorities.”
The Order of Malta Ambulance Corps runs an extensive operation, including a medical treatment unit in the local National School which assesses and treats all patients on the day, 4 fully crewed ambulances, rapid response vehicles, 2 First Aid Posts and a Medical Tent on the mountain, first aid and stretcher teams, and communication and welfare services. Pilgrims are reminded to ask any of the authorities or volunteers for advice before or during the climb.