Croatian Mountain Rescue Service Turns 72: 'We Only Have One Wish'

By 24 February 2022

February 24th, 2022 - The Croatian Mountain Rescue Service was founded in Zagreb 72 years ago. Nowadays, they have 1148 volunteers deployed in 25 stations all over the country

‘For 72 years now, a call to any member of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HGSS) has been a call to action to the entire service. In those moments, members of the HGSS put their lives aside so that they can save others. That is why we don’t ask for cards and gifts on our birthday, but we do ask one thing of you: educate yourselves, inform yourselves and get yourselves appropriate equipment before going on an adventure in nature. It’s the best way to ensure we don’t meet. If you found yourselves in the thick of it anyway, you can count on us’, said the members of the HGSS on their birthday.

On this day 72 years ago, the Founding Assembly of the Mountain Rescue Service in Croatia was held in Zagreb. The idea of a team of volunteers saving lives is ingrained in each of the 1148 volunteers of the HGSS, deployed in 25 stations all over Croatia. They’re all committed to a single mission - prevention, education, rescue and search for the injured.

‘Since the service was established, the HGSS has participated in over 10,000 rescue missions. Last year alone, we carried out 754 rescue missions and 150 interventions. Our crews took part in 196 searches, 27 actions on water and 48 actions in ski resorts. In addition, at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, we faced the greatest tragedy since Croatia's independence: the disastrous Banovina earthquake. HGSS is still active in that area as an intervention force, and is a fundamental component of the civil protection system and a part of the Homeland Security system. We visited 1420 locations, conducted 2164 preventive visits, successfully carried out 683 high-altitude missions and 39 operations involving search teams with search dogs who located people and animals under the rubble’, said head of the HGSS Josip Granić.

‘Members of the HGSS are volunteers - primarily alpinists, but also speleologists, high-altitude mountain climbers and skiers trained in first aid and all mountain rescue techniques, including helicopter rescue, search operations in inaccessible terrain, and operations involving search dogs. They give their knowledge and precious time unconditionally and at any given moment in order to save the lives of others. People with big hearts and the wish to help others are the biggest treasure we have. Without them, there would be no HGSS. This is why we again appeal to all citizens and nature lovers - inform yourselves and gear up before an adventure in nature. Look after yourselves, and we’ll keep looking after you’, said Granić.

Happy birthday, HGSS, and thank you for all that you do!