/ Inappropriate Rescue?
Whilst topping out on a route on The Ben on Monday, which was a blue sky day with little wind, I heard a chopper buzzing about the hill.
On the way down to Number 4 Gully met two young dudes on the way to the summit.
They told me their mate had been 'rescued' from the path as he was too tired to go on.
They had been camping on the hill so were heavily laden but nonetheless surely this is taking the piss. I appreciate without all the facts it's possibly unfair to be too critical but that's no fun!
To me it's the responsibility of the group to look after each other and self rescue. Thoughts?
> I appreciate without all the facts it's possibly unfair to be too critical but that's no fun!
Pretty much answering your own question there.
The facts I did have have were -
No medical issues.
Plenty of food and fluid.
Had ability to shelter.
Favourable weather conditions.
Had company of two others.
Proper winter clothing.
A friend of mine got delayed on a route going up the Courtes and they only reached the top of the NE face, their intended downclimb, as it was getting dark. They called the PGHM to let them know that they were safe and intended to spend the night in a hole, then carry on down at first light. They were just calling to cancel any would-be distress calls from friends back down in the valley, and to ask not to send a helicopter.
Early the next morning, the PGHM called them back to ask how they were getting on, and because my friend sounded a little tired (which is fair enough, they'd just been benighted and probably hadn't even had their porridge yet), they were told to stay put and a chopper would be along shortly to pick them up, from the NE summit crest. Of course, my friend could have protested a little harder, but who would turn down a free helicopter ride when offered? Talking about it after the fact, we decided that a lot of the time mountain rescue teams would rather make a stitch in time to save nine... it's easier to pick up a single person or a pair who are ambulatory and alive, in daylight, than it is to gather a whole team of exhausted would-be rescuers and a bin bag full of limbs from the middle of a cliff face, in the rain, at night.
The annoying and seemingly-pointless call-outs often have happier endings than "the real thing".
> The facts I did have have were -
> No medical issues
Do you really know this for a "fact".
"Too tired" may mean exhaustion. In some situations exhaustion can be a serious medical issue, even life threatening.
I asked his friends if he had any medical issues and they replied in the negative so unless he didn't share it with them then yes a fact.
So are you criticising MR for responding to a call out by sending a chopper based on your "facts"? Surely it's their call and not yours to decide? And as someone has said better to err on the safe side and get a good result
> I asked his friends if he had any medical issues and they replied in the negative so unless he didn't share it with them then yes a fact.
Does 'no medical issues' mean no history of any known medical conditions, or no medical issues at the time of the incident? Or both? I don't understand how you managed to get a full medical background check on the person in question from his friends yet didn't manage to find out what actually happened.
Where do you see criticism of MR in my post?
It struck me as odd that if the situation was so bad and the person in question needed a rescue why did his pals feel it necessary to tag the summit. If my pal was in such a bad way I would have wanted to get down as quickly as possible . This made me feel it wasn't such an emergency.
So, given the circumstances that were related to me ie the casualty was knackered, what would be the likely outcome if a helicopter wasn't a phone call away. They put their tent up, rested and went down when he recovered. It seems to me there is a rush to call MR. Surely all self rescue options should be examined first. This particular case is not unique and I am aware of many other similar scenarios where self rescue was not considered.
Yeah it doesn't really make sense .. but it seems more likely we dont have all the information. How does a healthy person get rescued for being "too tired"? It's a 3 hour walk to the carpark and they cant have done anything too extreme as their mates are in fairly good condition. It seems more likely the person rescued was a type 1 diabetic etc or something along that lines.
> To me it's the responsibility of the group to look after each other and self rescue.
I agree. Split the affected person's gear, or stash it for retrieval later, and help them walk off.
But there are limits: if a person is just too exhausted/incapacitated to continue then moving them on steep ground like the Ben would require specialist equipment and training to avoid risk to the rest of the group.
My perception of MRTs is that they don't request helicopters without a good reason, so I suspect there are some details you are missing. What time did the extraction happen? What was the forecast for conditions later? Is it possible that the helicopter was in the area anyway and the decision was taken to use it rather than risk the forcing of a ground-based rescue late in the day?
Late afternoon with good weather.
MR aren't really in a position to refuse assistance given the circumstances . They will always err on the side of caution.
I accept the suggestions from others that's it's better to act early to prevent a cascade of events but I didn't see or hear it from his pals who were happy to continue their journey.
> It's a 3 hour walk to the carpark
Only 15 mins 49 seconds if you're Findlay Wild. Although he did cheat by skiing some of it.
3 hour walk?
I met his pals on the way up near to Number 4 Gully and that was at least an hour since I heard the chopper so they were maybe on the zig zags but not much higher.
Isn't that less than halfway and maybe an hour (if you were really staggering/struggling) to the carpark? ... something doesn't add up
It all seemed very odd. It was the casualness of his pals that really stood out.
My only rescue call out was the PGHM when a friend borke and ankle ski touring. We discussed the time of day, capability of the rest of the group, distance/time to a road etc and decided to call the PGHM.
Discussed with them the decision making progress and they said they thought we were right to call them, it was a lot easier to pick one guy up in the light from a chopper than try to pick us all up with mild hypothermia in the dark via sled. They seemed glad of the call out to be honest.
At least it ended well for all, but I would have to ask if the 2 climbers considered completing their route to be more important than helping their supposedly incapacitated friend to leave the mountain. Of course their friend could have asked them to carry on without him, but it all strikes of using the rescue services for convenience rather than necessity.
The recent safety lecture I attended at Glencoe the MRT doctor speaking
said if you broke an arm they would expect you to self rescue, it was not an emergency type injury ( unless you were scrambling)
What would they have done if they didn't have mobile phone, I'm guessing walk down together?
Kids these, everything just a phone call away.....
> Where do you see criticism of MR in my post?
Sorry, it was your headline "Inappropriate Rescue" which prompted me to ask if you were criticising MR for sending a chopper?
OK you spoke to the rescued man's mates and your post is based on their responses. All I am saying is that MR responded the way they did because they made an assessment based on all the circumstances and information given to them, and they decided to send a chopper. A decision to call in a chopper is not one that is made lightly. Do you think you are in a position to question that judgement based on your conversation with the other two?
You said "I appreciate without all the facts it's possibly unfair to be too critical but that's no fun!" You are the one who mentioned possibly being too critical.
You asked for thoughts, and I have given you mine.
> What would they have done if they didn't have mobile phone, I'm guessing walk down together?
Not sure if you're being serious or grumpy. Normal procedure for no phone reception is someone stays with the casualty and someone descends to get help. Why would this case be any different?
Must admit that I share the OP's feeling that the rescue services are just a tiny bit too keen to go out and rescue folk; I watched an episode of a programme about this on TV and there was a group of girls on D of E who got stuck on the uphill side of a burn that had swollen in heavy rain. They looked fine, they had tents and good gear and could have waited a few hours for the burn to subside but the chopper went out and lifted them all off anyway. I'd have thought that having to wait for the burn to subside would have been a good exercise in planning and patience for the students. They could even have sent a couple of members upstream to check the possibility of a higher crossing.
But happily our rescuers, especially the RNLI, don't look to be short of funds so any excuse for a real-life practice, I suppose.
> Sorry, it was your headline "Inappropriate Rescue" which prompted me to ask if you were criticising MR for sending a chopper?
> OK you spoke to the rescued man's mates and your post is based on their responses. All I am saying is that MR responded the way they did because they made an assessment based on all the circumstances and information given to them, and they decided to send a chopper. A decision to call in a chopper is not one that is made lightly. Do you think you are in a position to question that judgement based on your conversation with the other two?
> You said "I appreciate without all the facts it's possibly unfair to be too critical but that's no fun!" You are the one who mentioned possibly being too critical.
> You asked for thoughts, and I have given you mine.
Just to be very clear I am not in any way criticising MR. I feel the casualty and his mates should have done more to self rescue and should not have been as quick to phone MR.
I know wheelsucker and his background, if the lad in question was in serious trouble, he would have assisted! Sounds to me like he was tired, a couple of hours from his car!
"Too tired to go on".
Blimey if thats true I'd have been rescued many times.
> The facts I did have have were...
None of those things are facts. It's second hand information about a third party from two people you don't know. They may be true, they may not be. Probably a bit of both.
Personally I'd be inclined to give the rescued party the benefit of the doubt, until I know otherwise. For a fact.
Their mate got evacuated from the hill with ill health and they decided to continue with their walk? What a pair of wankers!
I don't have all the facts so I cannot make a judgement.
Having said that, being a bit tired doesn't seem like a rescue scenario.
This whole thread seems a bit unfair, given the lack of information around the event. The OP seems to have established a number of 'facts' but evidently doesn't actually know the full story of what happened (admitted in the original post). I don't think mountain rescue would just send a helicopter to pick somebody up from the approach path without good reason. I'm not going to judge until there's more than patchy third hand information.
If someone says they are tired and unable to get off the hill, MR have no choice but to help, whether there is a 'good reason' for the call out or not. And to be clear, there are plenty of occasions when the 'casualty' could have walked off, but chose not to.
I don't think there's enough evidence yet to confirm that's what happened on this occasion though. Maybe it was more than just tiredness. Maybe the person was experiencing unexplainable breathlessness, for example, and there was a greater medical concern. We don't even know if the person was merely flow off the mountain or flown to a hospital.
> To me it's the responsibility of the group to look after each other and self rescue. Thoughts?
Reminiscent of the Cave Rescue Organisation call out when a Southern University caving club suddenly realised that one of their members was missing.
After a long evening searching to missing caver was found. CRO contacted the club and said their member was OK and were they picking him up from Clapham? 'Oh no. Actually we're all back at home now...'
And on a purely personal note we were talking to a couple of Brit climbers in the Hollandia Hut one day.
That evening one of them came across and said that as his mate had just had heart surgery and was feeling really unwell they had decided that it was best for him to get to the valley next morning. 'So could I come climbing with you instead....'
Next afternoon we actually caught up with the ill fellow still trying to walk down. On his own.
> I don't think there's enough evidence yet to confirm that's what happened on this occasion though. Maybe it was more than just tiredness. Maybe the person was experiencing unexplainable breathlessness, for example, and there was a greater medical concern. We don't even know if the person was merely flow off the mountain or flown to a hospital.
The fact, and it was a fact, that his two pals were so concerned with his condition that they continued to the summit makes me think it was the former!
At one time it was easy to see what the situation was with Lochaber jobs if they were reported in the press. One particular police inspector some years ago had some artistic flare with regard to press releases. The hint of top quality Inverness-shire sarcasm usually pointed one in the right direction. "The casualty was not local" was one of his regular favourites but there were several gems now lost to the mists of time and the needs of corporate public relations.
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