THE search is on for volunteers to join a team of lifesavers operating in County Durham and the Pennines.
The Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue team is looking for new recruits.
In addition to the whole of County Durham, the rescue team also covers parts of the High Pennines, including Cross Fell, the highest mountain in the Pennine range.
The team, whose members are all volunteers, averages about 40 call-outs a year.
In the past 12 months operations have varied, from a search for 10 walkers missing in poor weather and darkness on the North Pennine fells and assisting in a protracted search for a young boy who fell into the River Wear, to the search and rescue of a vulnerable man near Crook.
The most recent incident saw the team called to help trace a dog trapped underground after it disappeared chasing a fox on Raby Estates land near Middleton-in-Teesdale.
Deputy team leader, Steve Owers, said as well as recruting new volunteers in general, the team was particularly keen to attract members from the Barnard Castle and Teesdale areas.
“The type of people we are looking for are keen walkers who are comfortable walking and navigating in the Northern hills,” he said.
“During the one-year probationary period we will teach them mountain rescue skills including searching, casualty care and working safely near water.”
Mr Owers added: “As we are a charity and need to raise all the funds required to run the team, we would also expect new members to give up their time to take part in fundraising events such as street collections, sponsored events etc.
“We will also expect them to attend our fortnightly Wednesday evening training sessions and our monthly Sunday exercises.”
The mountain rescue team consists of about 50 volunteers who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The team was formed in 1968 and is based at a rescue centre in Barnard Castle.
Anyone interested in joining the team must fill in an online application form at www.twsmrt.org.uk by January 14.
Those selected will be asked to attend an information and assessment day in February.