Police Scotland is expanding its mountain rescue team in Tayside due to a surge in demand following the Covid pandemic.
Team leader PC Paul Morgan says call-outs in the region have more than doubled since 2019.
The Police Scotland (Tayside) Mountain Rescue Team was deployed 116 times in 2023.
It currently has 16 officers, spread across three bases in Perth, Dundee and Forfar.
Mr Morgan said: “There is a plan to increase that to 20 over the next couple of years.
“The reason for that being the demand has quite simply increased.”
Mr Morgan was updating Perth and Kinross Council’s housing and social wellbeing committee on the team’s efforts.
He said the biggest number of call-outs, prior to the pandemic, had been 56 in 2019.
By 2022 the number had risen to 85 and last year it hit 116.
Last year included eight water fatalities across Tayside – four in Perthshire and four in Angus.
Police mountain rescue crews an ‘asset to Tayside’
Mr Morgan is the only full-time member. His colleagues all work in other roles, such as cyber crime and roads policing, and have to be ready to drop their regular duties at a moment’s notice to attend rescues.
Since 1976, the Tayside police team has also had support from a team of volunteers, who join it on some, but not all, rescues.
The voluntary team, made up of 35 mountaineers – was called out 96 times in 2023, a 72% increase on the year before.
Mr Morgan said the Covid lockdowns had contributed to the rise in incidents.
“Members of the public found there was a countryside out there they didn’t really know existed before that,” he said.
“But it’s also an increase in simple things like battery-powered mountain bikes. More people are using them and so more people are going to be in the countryside and more people are going to be crashing or falling off them.”
He added: “More people are using stand-up paddle boards and canoes that you can buy in places even like Aldi. So more people are going on the water than we had say three or four years ago.”
Committee convener Tom McEwan said the rescuers were “an asset to the area”.
The SNP Blairgowrie and Glens councillor said: “When the unfortunate happens we know that people like yourself are there to come and help us. And that’s great.”