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Bleck Cra
2007-10-10 18:17:16
RESCUE OBJECTION
Following my posting of a comment on 1st October, Simon received communication from the Secretary of the Mourne Mountain Rescue, objecting to the comment which it considered to be “incorrect, damaging and hurtful”. After taking advice and views from within mv, it has been decided that a useful and alternative approach would be to state the facts as known. This will also afford the Rescue a platform to make their own comment, should they wish to.

On 30th September at around 5/5.30pm I came upon the scene of an incident on the Brandy Pad track at a short loop joining the higher western track with the lower track beneath the western tail of Commedagh’s Castles. Of the walking group of 4, there were 2 men on the track and two women off the track at the place of the incident. One of the women appeared to be injured, the other was using a mobile phone. 2 or I think 3 male rescuers were attending – they, although I think not all of them were identifiable by yellow tops. I asked one of the walkers on the track if this was a genuine accident or an exercise and he told me it was genuine. He then explained that the injured woman had slipped on a rock and damaged her ankle and they had called the Mountain Rescue for help. He also noted that they had been there for over 3 hours, from around 2pm, the time they had reported the accident. They complained of the cold and were mindful of the failing light. They looked cold and were restless from the wait and seemed irritated that they they were not being appraised of the progress of the rescue and of the time it had taken already and was taking for the rescue to advance. The 2 (or 3) rescuers had brought a stretcher which lay beside the casualty. There seemed to be no sign of a casualty bag although there may have been one, but the casualty was half sitting half lying in an open sleeping bag, which the Rescue may have brought. The casualty was grey and shaking and it was clear she was very cold. The members of the Rescue ..... were joking amongst themselves. I spent 5 to 10 minutes with them and then continued my route.
Somewhere between there and the saddle between Commedagh and Donard, I spoke with another Rescue member positioned with radio communication. I asked him why the rescue was taking so long. He advised that a helicopter had to come up from Dublin and that progress with the rescue was being hampered by cloud. Cloud on this day bottomed out on the tops at around 1800 feet and was completely clear in most of the glens from beneath around 1500 feet – the Glen River valley itself was clear from from the Pots of Pulgarve to Eagle Rock and opened out to be clear to Strangford Lough from Shan Slieve outwards. There was another Rescuer positioned on a cairn at the Saddle.

As I approached the top of Donard Wood at around 6.30pm a helicopter came in low off the Saddle and followed Commedagh North. In Donard car park there was a Mountain Rescue vehicle and various rescue personnel, who may have been present to cover an orienteering event on that weekend. I asked one of them if the casualty had been taken off and he advised that she had been taken to Daisy Hill Hospital.
If there is an issue here to be addressed it may be the length of time taken to effect this rescue – at least that would be the question asked by the general public. Another question might be why the Mountain Rescue chose to bring a helicopter in for this incident and not either:
1. recruit 6+ personnel from those on the hill and on the ground to carry the casualty to a road access – the first I think is at Donard Wood and would be an hour away, perhaps 2 hours with the stretcher or
2. move the casualty to where there was no cloud cover for the helicopter approach, of which I think there were many opportunities.
Given the nature of the injury there appeared to be no danger to the casualty by moving her. These are the facts and observations as I see them.. If they are incorrect then they stand to be corrected.
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