Two helicopters will be on standby to assist in mountain rescues at Bulgaria’s popular Bansko and Borovets ski resorts while one will be available in Sofia this winter season.
The helicopters, with specially-trained rescuers aboard, will be able to react within five to 10 minutes after receiving an emergency call, according to the Mountain Rescue Service.
This comes against a background of a 20 per cent increase in emergency calls for help this past winter, one of the harshest that Bulgaria experienced in recent decades.
More than 150 mountain rescue staff will be on duty to take care of the safety of visitors to Bulgaria’s mountain resorts this season.
So far this year – counting in the opening months of 2012 – there have been more than 1500 incidents in mountain resorts, most in Bansko and Borovets.
For the Mountain Rescue Service, the most serious problem is increasing incidents of fans of extreme sports who go off-piste.
At the start of the year, even though the slopes of Sofia’s Vitosha Mountain were closed, there were 47 incidents to which mountain rescue had to respond. A number of these were in terrain very difficult to access.
Tickets for lifts and pistes in Bulgaria’s mountain resorts generally include insurance but when people go off the slopes, the risk is their own. A number of insurers offer policies for emergency assistance in the event of accidents.
Kiril Roussev, head of the Mountain Rescue Service, told television station bTV that rescue teams would be trained along with the helicopters’ crews to respond quickly to emergency situations.
Consideration is being given to make available rescue helicopters to work at Bulgaria’s seaside resorts next year, possibly including being available for emergency medical care flights and transportation for organ transplant operations.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)