MOUNTAIN life-saver volunteers in the scenic Peak District National Park are now responding to emergency call-outs with an impressively capable all-wheel drive Mercedes Sprinter 4×4 to the rescue.
Kitted out to fulfil a number of roles, the Sprinter 4×4 can transport members of the Edale Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) to remote locations safely and efficiently, move casualties across challenging terrain, and act as a mobile command and control centre for complex incidents such as missing person searches.
The van has already been pressed into service to assist injured walkers and climbers who flock to the region’s hills, moors and rocky outcrops, and to assist police searches for people reported missing.
The Sprinter 316 CDI arrived via the Sheffield branch of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Mercedes-Benz Dealer Northside Truck & Van. As well as the driver and a front-seat passenger, it will carry another team member in a rear-facing seat, and an injured person on a stretcher.
The van is also equipped with an array of computer and communications equipment, including two large touch-screen monitors and software systems which can be used to share information with other teams or emergency services.
Restricting the need to run the engine while the vehicle is stationary, these can be powered by a bank of lithium-ion batteries which are charged with the help of two roof-mounted solar panels.
The Sprinter 4×4 is a genuine, factory-built option, rather than an aftermarket conversion, and sits higher than its standard counterpart, which assists when fording water as well as tackling uneven ground.
It uses rear-wheel drive for road use, but all-wheel drive can be selected when venturing off road. Conventional 4×4 vehicles rely on mechanically operated differential locks to prevent spinning wheels and guarantee equal speed at all four corners.
But the Sprinter 4×4, by contrast, uses a development of the acclaimed Mercedes-Benz 4-ETS (Electronic Traction System), which is integrated with the Adaptive ESP anti-skid technology to provide traction management – on slippery ground this senses when a wheel starts to spin, and sends drive to those with good grip.
The team had already ordered and were awaiting delivery of their new vehicle when they attended the latest Mercedes-Benz VanExperience LIVE showcase as guests of Northside Truck & Van. Staged at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, the event provided opportunities to take passenger rides in Sprinter 4x4s over the facility’s demanding off-road course.
MRT Leader James Stubley said: “Our visit to VanExperience LIVE was quite an eye-opener. It confirmed absolutely that we had made the right choice, and we came away really looking forward to getting our new van on – and off – the road.”
He continued: “We know from experience that Mercedes-Benz vans are extremely well built and reliable, as our new vehicle has replaced an older Sprinter, which was donated to us by South Yorkshire Police. It was still going strong at 20 years old and has now been passed on to the Yorkshire Lowland Search and Rescue Team, where it will continue to serve the county’s public.”
He continued: “The relationship we’ve built up with Northside Truck & Van was also instrumental in convincing us to buy another Mercedes-Benz, as the dealer’s Sheffield team look after us very well.
“Finally, as a charity that derives its income from public donations, we are always conscious of the need to get the best value for any money that we spend – the Sprinter 4×4 was very competitively priced, given its range of capabilities.”
Edale MRT is a registered charity and has more than 50 active members, all of whom are volunteers. The team responds to more than 120 incidents each year and is on call, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in all weathers.