Highland Emergency

Friday 2 April 2010 at 8.00pm

Concluding on Five this week is the documentary series following the work of the Scottish Highlands emergency services. In this episode, RAF winchman Martin ‘Kempy’ Kemp has a thrilling final shift when the team is called to three difficult rescues in a row. Over in Prestwick, the Royal Navy search and rescue crew takes an unprecedented step to assist a heart attack victim.

The RAF guys are en route to a special lunch in honour of Kempy’s last shift when they are diverted to rescue a fallen climber with a suspected head injury. With no accurate grid reference, the team searches for 20 minutes before finding the casualty 1,800 feet up an icy slope. Gale-force winds slam into the side of the chopper and prevent pilot Flt Lt John Darlow from getting close enough to the injured man. As a result, Kempy faces a dramatic 200ft winch to the casualty, who has fallen down a steep gully. Falling rocks mean that Kempy must act fast, but as the bloodied climber is hauled into the hovering chopper, the winchman learns that another person awaits his help.

The next casualty has fallen while climbing a notorious mountain that has seen ten rescues in a year. He has been lying in deep snow at sub-zero temperatures for almost three hours, and the guys are concerned when they struggle to locate the injured man. The cloud base is dropping, and the weather is closing in quickly. “We’re going to get sucked into this if we’re not careful,” says Kempy as he prepares to collect the casualty. Kempy must act swiftly and calmly as the hurricane-force downdraught threatens to throw him and the injured man into the valley below.

After another dramatic rescue, the RAF team looks forward to enjoying a celebratory curry in Kempy’s honour. Flt Lt Darlow has noticed a technical fault with the helicopter that would make winching impossible, so the team looks certain to be grounded for the time being. However, the guys’ plans are scuppered once again when they receive yet another emergency call. Two anglers are stranded on a rocky outcrop, where they are at risk of being swept out to sea. Not wishing to leave the men to the elements, the RAF boys decide to go to the scene and do what they can to help.

After spotting the trapped anglers, Kempy makes a brave suggestion. The landing lights have blown, so he volunteers to descend in pitch darkness while the pilot borrows his light to avoid colliding with the nearby cliffs. After swinging perilously close to the rocky cliff face, Kempy is forced to return to the chopper, but he is not one to give up easily. “Right, let’s get low, get it done, commit,” he says, as his final rescue mission quickly becomes the most challenging of his career.

Meanwhile, over in Prestwick, the Royal Navy rescue team comes to the aid of a man who has suffered a serious heart attack. The casualty faces certain death if he does not undergo a lifesaving procedure within the hour, so the rescue helicopter is his last chance. Once in the air, the man starts to vomit, and to make matters worse, the ambulance scheduled to meet the helicopter on landing fails to appear. Time is running out fast, so the guys are forced to take matters into their own hands in a last-ditch attempt to save their passenger’s life.


The documentary series charting the work of the Scottish Highlands emergency services concludes. In the final instalment of the series, the Royal Navy SAR team is on a training exercise that suddenly turns into a real emergency. Elsewhere, two specialist doctors are needed to treat a woman who has had a fall from her bike and suffered a bad head injury.

The Royal Navy search and rescue squadron is joined for the day by Dr Andrew Cadamy of the newly formed Emergency Medical Retrieval Service (EMRS) for a routine helicopter training exercise. As soon as the Sea King leaves the ground, however, the crew receives a genuine emergency call. There is an injured walker suffering breathing difficulties near Ben More.

Once they arrive at the mountain, the rescuers struggle to locate the casualty. They have not been given accurate co-ordinates and the ground is covered with tents and walkers. Lt Cdr Florry Ford asks a local farmer who eventually directs them to the correct tent. It emerges that the casualty is one of a group of teenagers participating in the Duke of Edinburgh awards.

The injured girl, 16-year-old Lucy, is examined and given pain relief by Dr Cadamy. She has a severely twisted ankle. After an initial assessment, the doctor decides Lucy is well enough to be taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley where her treatment can continue.

At HMS Gannet, another shift has started. There is bad weather moving in and the crew is scrambled to a big job. A female casualty has fallen off her bike and suffered a severe head injury which has caused a blood clot in her brain. As her condition is so grave, the crew needs to pick up two doctors from the EMRS in Glasgow.

The patient is currently in a small hospital on Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides. In order to transfer her safely to a larger hospital for specialist care, Rescue 177 must make a long round-trip – first to Glasgow to collect the two experienced emergency doctors, then 162 miles to Benbecula where the patient will be stabilised, and then back to Glasgow. Owing to bad weather conditions along the way, observer Tony Sherwin must guide the chopper using the on-board radar system.

In Benbecula, the doctors prepare the casualty, 26- year-old Valentina, for the two-hour flight to Glasgow. She has multiple injuries, but what concerns the doctors most is the blood clot. Valentina will need to be heavily sedated before she can be moved.

As the crew sets off from Benbecula, the bad weather and a few technical difficulties mean that the journey to the mainland will be a testing one. Eventually, however, the chopper lands safely at Southern General Hospital in Glasgow – much to everyone’s relief.

Once he is back on solid ground, the casualty’s husband, Francesco, reveals that the couple are in Scotland on their honeymoon and had been cycling together when Valentina suffered a terrible fall. The pair were clearly not expecting this level of drama on their holiday.

The documentary series charting the work of the Scottish Highlands emergency services continues. In this instalment, the coastguard conduct a daring cliff-top rescue on the Isle of Lewis. A man on the Isle of Iona is struck down by deep-vein thrombosis, and a woman suffering seizures has to be rescued from a yacht.

The remote Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides is home to a search and rescue squadron of the coastguard. Winch operator Steve Branley is on duty when the crew is scrambled to aid a man who has fallen off a small cliff at Aignish Beach, just across the bay from the squad’s base.

The injured man, 63-year-old Ray, is trapped in a precarious position on rocks above the beach and needs to be airlifted to hospital. Medically trained winchman Tony Oliver is lowered from the helicopter to assess the casualty while the rest of the crew lands in a nearby field.

Steve rushes to Tony’s aid and helps administer a painkilling gas to Ray. The pair gently put the injured man on a spinal board to ensure he suffers no further injury whilst being moved. They are then able to winch him safely onto the helicopter. Ray is transported to the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, where doctors reveal he has fractured a vertebra in his neck and will need long-term medical treatment.

In Prestwick on the west coast of Scotland, Royal Navy Rescue 177 has been asked to transport a 38- year-old Chilean man with deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). The crew collects the man from the tiny island of Iona, where he is being cared for by the local doctor, and takes him to Oban for specialist hospital treatment.

Air crewman Darren Craig monitors the patient throughout the flight and, upon arrival in Oban, an ambulance is waiting to rush the ill man to Lorn and Islands District General Hospital.

Later, the crew members of Rescue 177 are pressed into action once more when they are summoned to assist a woman suffering seizures on a yacht. Once he has located the boat, Lt Cmdr Florry Ford is winched down to assess the condition of the casualty, 46-year-old Alison. He finds that Alison is drifting in and out of consciousness and must be taken to hospital as soon as possible.

Lifting the patient onto the helicopter proves to be a tricky manoeuvre. The safest way to do it is to transfer her into a lifeboat and winch her up from there. Once the patient is in the chopper, Florry gives her oxygen and monitors her vital signs during the journey to hospital. Just before they land, Alison shows promising signs of recovery when she begins to regain consciousness.

The documentary series charting the work of the Scottish Highlands emergency services continues. In this instalment, the Royal Navy rushes to airlift an injured man from an isolated town; and a climber needs to be rescued from halfway up a mountain.

HMS Gannet at Prestwick is home to the Royal Navy’s Scottish search and rescue squadron. The base’s reputation as the busiest SAR centre in Britain is underlined by two emergency call-outs this week.

In the first case, the crew responds to a priority call from Inverie, 115 miles up the west coast, where a man has fallen 15ft through the roof of his house. Although Inverie is part of the mainland, it is not connected by road and only the Royal Navy’s helicopter can get there.

Upon arriving in the remote town, PO ‘Wiggy’ Wigfull rushes to attend the casualty, 56-year-old Kevin Lindsay Richard from Australia. Although conscious, Kevin is not moving. Wiggy is concerned that the injured man may have damaged his spine when he fell.

Kevin is plied with morphine and put on a vacuum mattress to immobilise him. Despite his injuries, he has not lost his sense of humour, and keeps the crew entertained with his one-liners. He is then flown to Broadford Hospital on the Isle of Skye, where Dr Leo Murray examines his injuries. Kevin is found to have broken his collar bone and fractured his ribs, but is otherwise in good spirits.

Another shift is underway at HMS Gannet when Lt Cdr Florry Ford receives a call from Buachaille Etive Mòr in Glencoe. A climber has fallen down the mountain, but with little information available, the crew members of Rescue 177 are uncertain what they will face.

Once at the scene, the helicopter’s on-board camera spots the injured climber, Peter Bentley, hanging about 2,600ft up the mountain. Peter has a visible head wound and blood on his hands. Winchman Darren Craig lowers himself 100ft to find the casualty has sustained multiple injuries and seems to be slipping into shock.

Darren opts to winch Peter off the mountain immediately rather than treat him at the scene. The crew lifts the man off the rock face and carries him to the bottom of the mountain, where a paramedic is waiting.

The chopper then returns to Buachaille Etive Mòr to pick up Peter’s climbing partner, John Salesbury, who was at the other end of the rope further up the mountain. John explains how Peter fell up to 100ft, bringing a rock down on top of him. Both climbers are then taken to hospital, where Peter is treated for a broken wrist and facial injuries.

Tuesday 23rd December at 7:30pm on five

The documentary series charting the work of the Scottish Highlands emergency services continues.

In this instalment, a Royal Navy SAR team battles to save two injured climbers, a day out on the river ends in disaster, and the Royal Navy is called out when an air ambulance is suddenly grounded.

Stationed at Prestwick on the west coast of Scotland, the Royal Navy Squadron at HMS Gannet provides 24-hour search and rescue coverage across an area of 98,000 square miles. It is early afternoon when Rescue 177 is scrambled to Buachaille Etive Mòr near Glencoe, where two climbers have been stranded by an avalanche.

When the rescuers arrive at the mountain, they spot the two men perched on a narrow ledge, barely two metres wide. The climbers have fallen some 150ft, and face a 300ft drop either side of their current position. Already on scene is Davy Gunn from the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team. As the chopper approaches, Davy is worried that the rotors may set off a new avalanche –so Rescue 177 pulls back while the casualties are treated.

Lieutenant Commander Florry Ford is lowered onto the mountain with pain-killing gas for the casualties. The injured men are brothers David and Andrew Hall. While David has dislocated his shoulder, Andrew has a broken ankle and has been in and out of consciousness. After a tricky winch operation, the brothers finally make it safely into the chopper. They are very lucky to be alive.

The RAF’s search and rescue squadron is based at Lossiemouth on the northeast coast of the country. Today, a training exercise is interrupted by an emergency call from a white-water rafting centre on the River Findhorn, just three miles from Rescue 137’s current location. Winch operator Paul Hayward and the rest of the crew are on scene in minutes. There have in fact been two accidents – 38-year-old Iain Duncan has badly broken his leg, and 20-year-old Alison McCulloch has dislocated her shoulder. While Alison is able to make it to the helicopter on foot, Paul and the crew face a difficult winch to bring Iain on board.

With both casualties finally in the helicopter, Rescue 137 speeds the injured pair to hospital where it is revealed that Alison suffered muscle damage and bruising, while Iain’s leg was broken in three places.

Back at HMS Gannet, Lt Cdr Florry Ford is on a new shift when he and the rest of the crew are called out to the Loch Lomond area for an unusual emergency –the Glasgow air ambulance has broken down during an operation to rescue a woman with a broken ankle. It is down to the Navy crew to step in and take 40-year-old Laura Starmore to hospital in Glasgow, while the air ambulance awaits some much-needed attention.

Tuesday 16th December at 7:30pm on five

The documentary series charting the work of the Scottish Highlands emergency services continues. In this instalment, a Royal Navy rescue team rushes to the aid of an unconscious woman on Ben Nevis; medics dash to a badly injured mountain biker; and there is a difficult nighttime search for a windsurfer missing at sea.

Based at HMS Gannet, the Royal Navy SAR team is on call 24 hours a day. As well as search and rescue operations, the team members can be called upon to handle critically ill patients in all manner of emergency situations. Their latest call-out comes from Ben Nevis, where a woman has fallen on the rocks and is slipping in and out of consciousness.

After a 35-minute flight, Rescue 177 arrives at the mountain, where 21-year-old Icelandic tourist Agusta is waiting with her boyfriend. While she may have regained consciousness, she is now having difficulty breathing. Paramedic ‘Wiggy’ Wigfull administers oxygen, but struggles to diagnose the patient’s condition. After quickly lifting her into the chopper, the rescuers rush Agusta to hospital, where further tests will help determine her illness.

On Aonach Mor, a few miles away from Ben Nevis, hundreds of bikers are taking part in the Scottish Downhill race – an event not for the faint hearted. Paul Roe and his ten-strong team of mountain medics provide emergency cover for the race. When a boy falls from his bike and lands on his head, the stewards stop the event so that the lad can be treated on the track. The cyclist is 15-year- old Craig . Medic Mark makes an urgent examination, since head injuries are always serious – and Craig may have also damaged his spine.

The mountain medics put Craig on a vacuum mattress so that they can safely move him down the slopes. At the bottom of the mountain, the lad is picked up by an ambulance and rushed to hospital for an urgent examination and X-rays. Luckily, Craig’s spine is not seriously damaged.

Lossiemouth on the northeast coast of Scotland is home to the elite RAF search and rescue squadron. Just after 7pm, the unit is scrambled to the aid of a windsurfer in difficulty – last seen floating out to sea near Aberdeen. With a man stuck in freezing water, this is a life-and-death situation.

When the rescuers arrive on the scene, it is pitch black over the sea, so Flight Sgt James Lyne uses the on-board infrared camera to search the water. Eventually, Sgt Lyne makes a sighting, and Sgt Chris Bradshaw is winched down to bring up the freezing windsurfer.

When he arrives in the helicopter, 46-year-old Stewart is shivering uncontrollably and must be taken to hospital as quickly as possible. Fortunately, he is found to be suffering from just the early stages of hypothermia.

Wednesday 10th December at 7:30pm

The documentary series charting the work of the Scottish Highlands emergency services continues. In the first instalment this week, the Royal Navy attends the scene of a head-on collision with multiple victims; and a team of dedicated medics keeps busy at the Mountain Bike World Cup. In the second episode, the RAF races to save a woman missing on Ben Nevis, and a helicopter has to avoid dangerous power cables to save an injured man.

The RAF’s 202 Squadron scrambles to rescue a climber stuck 2,200ft up on Ben Nevis. Thirty-nine-year-old Claire Kitching is taking part in the Three Peaks Challenge, which involves climbing the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales in just 24 hours. She is now trapped at Halfway Lochan on Ben Nevis, her final peak, unable to to go any further as her knees have seized up –a painful and potentially serious condition. It is past 10 o’clock at night and visibility is poor as the RAF crew carefully lifts Claire into the helicopter and takes her to the bottom of the mountain. An ambulance meets them in Fort William to transport the patient to hospital, where Claire can reflect on her lucky escape.

Tuesday 9th December at 7:30pm

The documentary series charting the work of the Scottish Highlands emergency services continues. In the first instalment this week, the Royal Navy attends the scene of a head-on collision with multiple victims; and a team of dedicated medics keeps busy at the Mountain Bike World Cup. In the second episode, the RAF races to save a woman missing on Ben Nevis, and a helicopter has to avoid dangerous power cables to save an injured man.

The four members of Royal Navy Rescue 177 spring into action when they receive reports of a car crash with multiple victims on the A137. There are eight reported casualties. After struggling to locate the crash site, the crew eventually arrives to discover two heavily damaged cars have been involved in a head-on collision. There are now five casualties left at the scene and paramedic ‘Wiggy’ Wigful’s priority is an elderly woman who is having trouble breathing. The crew must transport her to hospital as quickly as possible.

Approximately 60 miles away in the Nevis Range, the Mountain Bike World Cup has made it to Aonach Mor for the Scottish leg of the race. The injury rate for events like this is incredibly high and the race medics know from experience that they will have their work cut out.

The team soon gets word of a serious injury to a young rider. Medic Jeff Starkey must run a mile uphill to treat teenage cyclist Scott Webster, who has toppled off his bike while riding around a corner. Jeff suspects Scott may have broken his collarbone and possibly damaged his spine. Due to his awkward location on the mountainside, he is airlifted in an unusual craft –a custom-designed cable car. It is an anxious wait as he is delivered to hospital for further assessment.

The documentary series charting the work of the Scottish Highlands emergency services continues. In this instalment, the Royal Navy races to save a seriously ill infant; and a Coastguard team attempts a dangerous rescue in high seas and gale-force winds.

Time is of the essence for Royal Navy’s Rescue 177 this week when they receive word that a 17-month-
old baby, Madison, has contracted a life-threatening infection. Madison is in a hospital in Campbeltown, but requires specialist attention that the facility cannot provide. The nearest treatment centre, Paisley, is four hours away by road, but Madison does not have that much time. Her infection could lead to kidney failure, which would be fatal. She needs to be transferred by the Royal Navy’s
helicopter, which will take just half an hour.

Medics Florry Ford and Kev Regan arrive at Campbeltown, where they are briefed by hospital staff. Baby Madison and her mother, Lesley, will be transported to Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital in Rescue 177’s chopper. The craft makes the journey in good time and Madison is immediately put on an intravenous drip as she is unable to take fluids. She is nursed back to health, but still must make regular
trips to Glasgow for check-ups.

Elsewhere, HM Coastguard receives a late-afternoon call-out. A hiker, Mike, has taken a fall on the Isle of Skye, 45 miles away from the Coastguard base on the Isle of Lewis. It emerges that Mike tumbled 20ft after trying to scale a cliff face and is now stranded on rocks just above sea level. As the rescuers make their way to the scene in their helicopter, they receive word that Mike is not alone – his climbing companion Gillian left the rest of their party to help him. Now Mike has fallen into the choppy water and Gillian is stranded on a rock face.

When Rescue 100 searchers reach the scene, they have difficulty finding the pair. Winchman Tony Oliver is lowered down the cliff to inspect the surrounding area. Disaster strikes when, halfway down, Tony’s radio fails and his team members have no way of communicating with him. Instead, Tony must use hand signals to get his message across.

Fortunately, he soon spots Mike and Gillian clinging onto rocks. They are being battered by relentless waves and Tony must get to them quickly before they become badly injured.

Tuesday 25th November
7:30pm pm five

The documentary series charting the work of the Scottish Highlands emergency services continues. In this instalment, rescuers from HM Coastguard scour a mountain for a hiker with a severe head wound, and Royal Navy searchers rush to the aid of a suspected heart attack victim.

This week’s action kicks off at HM Coastguard’s base on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, where rescuers receive word of a fallen hiker. The Dutch holidaymaker, Cor, was walking in the Cuillin mountain range on the Isle of Skye when he slipped and fell onto a steep rock face. As pilot John Bentley and his team race to the scene in their helicopter, the weather turns stormy. By the time they reach the peak, there is severe cloud cover. Visibility is reduced, so local mountain rescuers are called in to assist on foot. They will be able to search higher ground that cannot be seen from the chopper.
Fortunately, a break in the weather grants the Coastguard precious moments in which to scour the mountainside from the air. Just below the cloud, John Bentley spots Cor balanced precariously on a steep piece of rock. Beneath him is a 300ft drop. Winchman Steve Branley is lowered down to retrieve the casualty. Cor is delivered safely to the helicopter, where medics assess his injuries. However, the patient will need to undergo further tests to determine if there are any hidden complications. At nearby Broadford Hospital, it is revealed that Cor has no damage to his skull and only requires stitches to the head wound and treatment for a broken wrist.

At HMS Gannet in Prestwick, home to the Royal Navy’s SAR Squadron 177, rescuers are summoned to an accident at Goat Fell mountain on the Isle of Arran. The victim, David, underwent heart surgery four weeks previously and is thought to have suffered another cardiac arrest. When Rescue 177 searchers locate David, they find that he has also fallen and hit his head. Once the patient is loaded into the helicopter, the crew flies to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock for further attention. Tests reveal that he has not had another heart attack, nor has he suffered any brain damage.

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