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History of GOPR in Jura

People have always been falling down from ruins of castles and into the numerous caves of Jura. That's why there had been a few attempts to form a search and rescue group in this area. In the 30s there was a seasonal Mountain Rescue station in Dolinki Podkrakowskie. In the 60s Michał Bohynek promoted the idea in Zawiercie, and Paciej Popko in Częstochowa. Unfortunately, because of lack of money and, above all, lack of interest of the local authorities, the projects were never realised.

The turning point was when in 1993 mountain rescuers Irena and Piotr van der Coghen took over the Taborisko camp of the Polish Mountaineering Association in Lgotka, next to the famous rocks of Podlesice.

As all climbers knew that the holders of the place were mountain rescuers, they would come for first aid or to ask for help in case of accidents.

One day, a 17-year-old climber Hubert From Torun, fell down from Biblioteka Rock. He was initially diagnosed with spine fracture and injured kidney. An experienced mountaineer and Polish Mountaineering Association instructor Piotr Pustelnik, who saw the accident, called in the van der Coghens, as usually. Irena took care of the patient and organised other climbers to move the injured boy from the rocks. Piotr, after having examined the patient, called Medical Air Rescue and the doctor who came in an ambulance from nearby Myszkow confirmed it as a good decision and the only way to save the boy's life. In the meantime, Michal and Adam van der Coghen organised an improvised helicopter landing field, just as it's done in the mountains.

That was the first, historic medical helicopter flight to Jura, that saved the life of a severely injured climber. The MI-2 helicopter was then piloted by Jerzy Kulik from Gliwice (currently the LOT Boeing captain at the Okecie Airport in Warsaw).

After that accident Piotr van der Coghen applied to the Head of the Beskidy Mountain Rescue Group, Adam Kubala, for organising a Jura section of the Beskidy Group of Mountain Rescue Group and a mountain rescue station in Podlesice. The authorities of the Group didn't agree to create such a section but they gave a conditional permission to run a seasonal rescue station which was initially equipped in... a rescue toboggan. The long talks aimed at convincing the authorities that equipment is needed to save people in Jura were not successful.



In the above mentioned circumstances, in 1995, 50 climbers and speleologists formed a rescue association called Jura Mountain Rescue. Wojciech Swiecicki (then President of Polish Mountaineering Association) was chosen President of JOPR, Piotr Pustelnik was chosen Vice President of Jura Mountain Rescue and Bogdan Krauze was chosen treasurer. Piotr van der Coghen was chosen Head of Jura Mountain Rescue and Irena van der Coghen Vice Head in the field of prevention.

The first rescuers to carry out regular, voluntary rescue duties in Jura were: Irena and Piotr van der Coghen, Michał and Adam van der Coghen, Robert and Beata Zamojscy, Michał Klockowski, Anna Gajewska and Tomasz Osojca.

It was a new chapter in the history of organised rescue in Jura. There were more and more accidents reported, however, Jura Mountain Rescue was still financed only by the van der Coghen family. As the rescue service had absolutely no equipment, Irena and Piotr van der Coghen decided to donate all their possession gathered while running their VANCROLL School of Survival, Skiing and Mountaineering. That included: mountaineering and speleological gear, tents, pontoons, diving equipment, 2 UAZ off road cars and 1 GAZ off road car.

The young rescue service that functioned without subsidies or government grants drew attention of Jurek Owsiak, Head of the Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy Foundation. He shot a series of accident prevention films together with JOPR and afterwards he equipped the rescue service in Jura with modern mountaineering and rescue equipment and two quads together with rescue trailers. That motivated Związek Gmin Jurajskich (Jurassic Communities Association) to buy a modern cave rescue stretcher and a quad transporter for JOPR.

Still, months passed, and all the running costs of the rescue service, such as rescuers' catering, station's running costs, phone bills, cars' petrol, insurance etc. were consequently covered by the van der Coghen family.


Central Rescue Station of the Jura Group of GOPR in 1999.

      Rescue Station of the Jura Group of GOPR in 2009.


In 1998 Jura Mountain Rescue Team prepared all the required documents to be accepted by the Ministry of Interior and Administration as an official mountain rescue service financed and controlled by the authorities. However, the then Minister Krebok suggested that the organisation should become part of one of Polish Mountain Rescue Groups. Those organisations considered this possibility but, finally, it was the national Convention of GOPR Delegates in Zakopane that decided to form a Jura Group of GOPR, based on JOPR (Volunteer Search and Rescue of Jura).

The Commune of Kroczyce transferred an old, empty, school building, which was immediately turned into an all-year, 24-hour Central Rescue Station of the Jura Mountain Rescue Group. The building was renovated by the rescuers and equipped in three telephone lines and a radio to ensure communication.

Jerzy Owsiak transferred his own off road car – Mercedes to the newly established Group. That was the most modern car the Jura Mountain Rescue Group possessed until it received a Land Rover Defender ambulance from the GOPR's Board in Zakopane.

Following the organisation's charter, new authorities of the Jura Mountain Rescue Group were chosen.

Adam Kukla was chosen the President of the Jura Mountain Rescue Group, and Piotr van der Coghen was chosen the Head of the Group by other rescuers. Tomasz Winecki and Jerzy Geisler were chosen to the GOPR audit committee.

The communication was improved. New field rescue stations were opened in Siedlec, Podzamcze, Rzędkowice, Jaroszowiec, Grabowa and finally in Olsztyn.

The Central Rescue Station in Podlesice was modernised thanks to grants from the Ministry of Interior and Administration.

In order to provide a 24-hour service all year round a few professional rescuers were employed, who constituted 10% of all rescuers (and for a whole month of being on alert 24 hours a day they received 700 zlotys).

After the extremely snowy winters of 2000 and 2001 the Voivode of Silesia equipped the Group in a first snowmobile.

The modern mountain rescue in Jura went into a new stage.

1. Tatrzańskie Ochotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe – Tatra Volunteer Search and Rescue TOPR

2. Polski Związek Alpinizmu –Polish Mountaineering Association PZA