Interview with Martin Matúšek

Get to know Tatras with us

Interview with Martin Matúšek

Director of the Mountain Rescue Service. Martin Matúšek, originally from Terchova, moved to the Tatra Mountains for work more than twenty years ago. He grew up in a family where movement was part of everyday life - his grandmother was one of the first female mountaineers in Slovakia, his mother was a skier and his father worked as a rescuer for more than 40 years.

Interview with Martin Matúšek

From a young age he was close to movement, mountains and health care. He started his career as a volunteer rescuer in Mala Fatra, since 2002 he has been working in the High Tatras as a mountain rescuer. Since 1 January 2024 he has been the Director of the Fire Brigade.


You are an avalanche specialist, avalanche dog handler, rescuer, multiple winner of international mountain competitions at home and abroad, iron man of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic, ski mountaineer, mountain guide... all in one person. Which of these fields defines you the most?

I think absolutely all of them. In my opinion, a person should be flexible and versatile. I enjoy movement, I love nature, people and challenges.



What is your first memory of the mountains?

The first real hill I climbed was the Great Rift Mountain. To this day, it is one of the most photogenic hills with the most beautiful view in Slovakia. Every experience in nature is different, something specific. The only thing that plays a role is whether I am walking in creepers, in sneakers, on skis, in boots and in what kind of company.


How did you become a handler?

My father was a mountain rescue dog handler, we had about 7 service dogs at home. After that I lived in an apartment for a long time and was only able to have my own dog when I moved into a house. At work we don't have a service dog kennel or anyone to take care of them for us. If someone is a handler, it means they have their own dog that has been through training, trials, classifications and various events, so they are also a colleague. It's one of the specialties of the mountain rescue service, but it's a voluntary extra.



What have you learned through your profession as a rescuer?

Respect for nature, working with fear, especially fear of death, working with evaluating situations, respect for life and all living things. And to work in a team, because one person alone can do nothing in rescue. In my experience, it is always about working in a team.



What type of injuries do you encounter most often during the summer season in the mountains?

It's a wide range of injuries that we encounter in the summer - from a sprained ankle on a common marked hiking trail to a fatal climbing injury. Of course we have a wealth of information, apps, and options, but we still need to stick to common sense and self-preservation. 


Can you give us some recommendations that hikers should follow in the mountains to avoid accidents and injuries?

When visiting the mountains, an ordinary person does not need to have studied the TANAP regulations. They move along marked routes, open hiking trails, start from normal parking places and visit open huts. If he follows the information boards in the field and does not harm nature, he will avoid many accidents. As far as cyclists are concerned, they also have marked routes which they should have studied.



What motivates you to get up in the morning when you really don't feel like it?

The dog. (laughs) Whether I want to or not, the dog needs a walk. And then, once my body is blooded, I breathe in some fresh air, have my morning coffee and the day can begin.



Can you remember a time or moment in your career that moved you forward?

Mountain Leadership. Seeing people in nature, moving in the mountains, passing on joy and guiding people is different from being a mountain rescuer who needs to rescue people and get them down to safety. As a mountain guide, I help people climb up.


Thank you to all the mountain rescuers who protect our lives in the mountains with their courage, dedication and expertise.

Share article:

You may be interested


Newsletter full of information

Always be in the loop

2x times a month we will sent to you interesting info about Tatras and special offers.