Hard to reach? We'll find a way...
At around 2.30pm yesterday, North Wales Police / Heddlu Gogledd Cymru requested assistance from the UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Caernarfon to reach a person with a suspected broken leg in the Conwy Valley. Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation was called to recover the person from the mountain however it would have been too difficult an extraction due to the steep and loose nature of the terrain so the Coastguard helicopter was called in.
Due to loose ground underfoot, following a previous landslide, the Mountain Rescue Team made a tremendous effort to rig a lowering system to move the casualty some 40 metres down the eroded area to a clear pickup point for the helicopter. The high trees created another obstacle resulting in the helicopter having to hover at 300ft - using the full length of its winch cable!
According to winchman operator, Michael Boissier-Wyles, 'The crew on board the helicopter was our chief pilot Captain Dave Kenyon, co-pilot Kate Simmonds, winchman-paramedic Richard Taylor and myself. Our crews regularly operate and train with the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team and while this was a challenging extraction, it was extremely well-coordinated. They did some really good work on the ground with the casualty and maintained excellent communications with us throughout.
'We used a lot of equipment between us for the rescue; the full length of our winch cable which is around 290 foot, our hi-line to stop any spinning of the casualty and winchman while being lifted to the aircraft, a double strop to secure the casualty and 150 foot of the Mountain Rescue Team's rope. Once in the helicopter we transferred the casualty onwards to Bangor Hospital where we hope they are doing well.'