My First Mountain Rescue Call-Out....
Mountain Rescue is one of those organisations that you know is amazing, but you hope to goodness you'll never need to call them out yourself. I have an annual subscription to my local Mountain Rescue team, and always chuck a few coins in a bucket whenever I see any team fundraising.
Last Tuesday, I was on the first walking day of a walking holiday. I was leading. The weather was horrendous, with high winds and rains forecast for the tops, so we changed all the walks (three run each day) to low level ones, still with an easier, medium and harder option for each one. I was leading the medium, or option 2, and this was taking us from Rhyd Ddu Train Station, initially up the Rhyd Ddu track, and then over through quarry workings to eventually join the Watkin Path. We then returned to Craflwyn around Llyn Dinas. At least, that was the plan.
And everything was going really well - until we got to here. I waited my turn to go down through the groove between the rocks, and the gentleman behind me said "I'll take the high road, you take the low road". He stepped onto the rock on his left, slipped, his body turned and he hit his head on the rock on the left hand side of the picture. He is actually inside that group shelter, what a blessing those things are.
The gentleman was knocked unconscious for three or four minutes, and when he came round, didn't know where he was or why he was lying on the ground in a place he didn't know, with strangers surrounding him asking him funny questions. He knew his name and age, but nothing else. After a few minutes, and with some prompts, he began to remember why he was there. This is one reason why it is so important to have medical details readily available. Below are screenshots of a laminated piece of paper that I keep in the lid of my rucksack - printed back to back - so that all relevant details are to hand.
I also give copies to my clients when doing courses. If you'd like a PDF copy, click on either screenshot above and it will take you to my "Useful Links" page on my website, where you can click on the PDF icon and print it out.
I was very lucky because we had a retired GP and a nurse in the party, so once I had established that, I felt that my First Aid skills would be inferior and I was better employed looking after the whole party. There were nine guests in the party. The retired GP and her husband got inside the shelter with the casualty to help keep him warm. He also had a sit mat underneath him as he had fallen on a rock and it was not possible to move him far. We got his legs into an orange survival bag - from his own rucksack - and put a silver foil around him.
I had no mobile phone signal - typical - however one guest did, and she was able to contact Mountain Rescue. Her task was to stay rooted to the spot so that she didn't lose signal. When she had contact with Mountain Rescue, she passed the phone over to the retired GP (who had to come out to said spot) who was able to give good information to the Mountain Rescue, including a full Grid Reference (see screenshots above). The Mountain Rescue decided that due to the injury and the location of the casualty, it would be necessary for the helicopter to come out. We were a good mile and a half off the road, so to carry a man on a stretcher on rocky ground for that distance was obviously not possible.
Once I knew what was happening, I decided that it was best to get the rest of my group off the hill as they were starting to get cold, even though it was mid September. It was raining, the clag was down, and it was not pleasant. I walked them about half a mile to the junction with the Watkin Path, and from there they made their way straight down the track, with no turn-offs, to the road. After reaching the road, the cafe would be about 30m on their right. It was closed!! From there, they would return to Craflwyn around Llyn Dinas - it may have been a longer route than the road, but it was the one we were originally to take, and I felt it was safer to stay off the road. I returned to where I had left the others and waited for Mountain Rescue.
It wasn't long before we saw the helicopter and indicated to them that we required help by standing straight, with our arms held up and out, forming a Y shape. The helicopter circled a few times, and then dropped an orange smoke canister to establish the wind direction, to allow them to land next to the river below us.
Soon the Mountain Rescue guys appeared with a stretcher and started attending to our casualty, getting all the necessary details, and making various checks with him, before loading him onto a stretcher.
Two walkers were over in the quarries opposite and had seen what was going on and came over to see if they could help. Help was gladly accepted in the form of helping to carry the stretcher to the helicopter.
As you can see, although it was only a short distance, it was still quite steep to carry a man on a stretcher down.
Once safely in the helicopter, with our retired GP who had very kindly volunteered to accompany him, our casualty was flown to Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor.
After receiving an MRI scan, he was given the all clear and allowed to leave, with strict instructions to rest, and not go out into the mountains for the next few days.
When the helicoper had gone, the rest of us returned with the MRT to get other details that were not available on the hill. The casualty's wife was informed, and given a lift to the hospital. It was great to see them all back later that evening, and our casualty even saying he was looking forward to a walk tomorrow!! We knew he was joking, thankfully!!
The Mountain Rescue, Coast Guard and NHS staff did a fabulous job. Mountain Rescue and Coast Guard are all volunteers, and all left their day jobs in order to attend the call out. We are very thankful to them. And as I so often say, it could happen to any one of us, at any time.
The team that came out to us was Llanberis Mountain Rescue team. All Mountain Rescue teams are run entirely on donations, so if you are able to donate to Llanberis, or any other Mountain Rescue Team, then please do so. It will be very much appreciated.
And if anyone shops on Amazon, you can choose the Mountain Rescue as your "Smile" charity.
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