he Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team, working in close contact with the Strandhill based Coastguard Rescue Helicopter, was involved in a dramatic cliff top rescue on Tuesday last, July 14th.

Early that afternoon the Gardai in Sligo tasked the local mountain rescue team to deal with a 999 call received from a party of nine holidaying in the area. According to team leader, Alan Sayers, initial reports were very confusing as the climbers were unsure of their location.

“The person who initiated the 999 call was in a very distressed state; a member of the party had attempted to scale a steep cliff and was now unable to move on the cliff face being on very precarious footing. The situation was further complicated as the group did not know their location.

“We questioned them over the phone as to prominent visible landmarks and what details they could recall from their initial car journey. From this information we guessed them to be somewhere above Lough Melvin possibly on Arroo mountain.”

“As this was a potentially very serious incident and our identified location could have been completely erroneous we tasked the local Coastguard Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopter to assist in the search while we also activated our neighbouring Donegal based M.R team who responded immediately,” said Mr. Sayers.

“Whilst the team assembled and travelled to Lough Melvin a member from the area scouted the area by road in advance of the main team. This member located the party on Arroo Mountain and was able to reach them quickly with the aid of local farmers who supplied a quad bike to enable quick access.

“At this stage the man on the cliff had been there for almost an hour. Luckily conditions were good despite a brief rain shower. However, he was in imminent danger of panic, shock or cramp, any move by him on the cliff could have resulted in a very dangerous fall.

” By now the Coastguard helicopter had reached the rescue area, the winch man was lowered to the casualty and on the second attempt reached him. From here he was quickly winched into the helicopter and conveyed to Sligo General Hospital Emergency Department for assessment.

“Mountain Rescue Team members remained in the area to ensure the remaining members of the party descended safely from the mountain. This incident,” concluded Mr Sayers, ” is a very good example of the value of a quick response time and close cooperation between emergency services in averting what could have been a very serious incident.”

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