A friend of mine, Robin Blandford, volunteers with Howth Coast Guard and has done for a good few years. The unit attends up to 70 calls a year and 25 volunteer members are on call 24/7. On the evening of Thursday 26th July this year French tourist Yacine visited Howth with her Irish friend to walk the cliff path around Howth Head. Her friend had told her of the speculator views the walk offers from Dublin bay to the south to Ireland’s eye and Lambay to the North.
As they approached near the Bailey lighthouse the pair decided to descend 50 metres below on a path to a beach known locally as Whitewater brook. The path is very steep in places and can get slippery after rainfall.
10 metres from the bottom Yacine became weak and she fell down a steep embankment over jagged rocks to the bottom. Her friend who was trained in first aid rushed to the bottom of the cliff to her aid. Yacine was drifting in and out of consciousness and needed help fast. A family who were on the beach went to her assistance, they tried frantically to dial 999 for assistance, unfortunately there was no signal available to make an emergency call so one of the family raced to the top of the cliff path to get help. From there he was able to get signal and his call was put through to the Coast Guard 999 Control room in Dublin City.
The control room quickly tasked the Coast Guard Helicopter “Rescue 116” to launch immediately from Dublin airport, the pagers of the Coast Guard Cliff Rescue team based at Howth were also activated and 15 volunteers from the unit who were on call responded to the scene. Knowing the area very well the teams quickly located Yacine, due to the serious fall she had taken it was imperative the rescue needed to be carried out very carefully to ensure no further injuries were suffered. Working together the paramedics from the helicopter and the volunteers from Howth Coast Guard treated Yacine for having suspected spinal injuries and “packaged” her to minimise any movement in her transport to hospital.
Yacine was carried to a clear overhead location to be winched into Rescue 116 and airlifted to Tallaght hospital; after a number of tense days for Yacine and her family, who had flown in from France, news came through that she sustained serious injuries to her collar bone but her worst fear of not being able to walk again had been dismissed by the doctors. A delighted Yacine returned to her hotel but was unable to fly and attended Tallaght hospital for a numbers of weeks afterwards before being allowed return home.
The entire incident was recorded on camera as part of Ireland’s Search and Rescue Program and includes an interview with Yacine on her experience. You can see it tonight (16th December) at 6.30pm on RTE One.
Remember if you see someone that may need help on the water/ cliffs/ beach, DON’T DELAY CALL 999/112 RIGHT AWAY and ask for the COAST GUARD