Sore and numb, but sur­vivor is de­ter­mined to climb again

Bray People - - News -

LAST WEEK’S res­cue was one of the most danger­ous un­der­taken by the res­cue teams due to the high winds and heavy snow on Lugnaquilla.

‘Vis­i­bil­ity on Mon­day night was very very poor. There was howl­ing winds and it was bit­terly cold. At one stage ev­ery­thing every­one was wear­ing in­clud­ing their res­cue packs were cov­ered in a layer of ice,’ says PRO of Dublin Wick­low Moun­tain Res­cue Team (DWMRT), Paul Gil­bert.

‘My beard had ice in it and other peo­ple had ice for­ma­tions on their eye­lashes. The switches on our head torches were frozen and the wa­ter in our wa­ter bot­tles was start­ing to freeze.

‘The ter­rain on Lugnaquilla is very dif­fi­cult at the best of times and there was up to 18 inches of snow on it last week. The winds were be­tween 70 to 100km/h and the tem­per­a­ture was be­tween -8 to -10 with wind chill. It was dif­fi­cult to keep our own spir­its and morale up while also try­ing to con­cen­trate.’

The first team of res­cuers hit the moun­tain at 10 p.m. on Mon­day night when the call came though. SORE AND numb but de­ter­mined to climb again Rath­dan­gan’s Pat Doyle is re­cov­er­ing from his or­deal on Lugnaquilla last week.

Pat (36) spent 21 hours close to the sum­mit of the moun­tain with fel­low clim­ber, Keith McDon­nell last Mon­day night and Tues­day morn­ing.

‘My right foot is a bit sore and I have numb­ness in both my hands but it will go within a few days. There is no nerve dam­age or any­thing. I will def­i­nitely climb again. It’s my pas­sion. It’s part of what I do, of who I am.’

When their map blew away and they re­alised they would have to spend the night up on the moun­tain Pat and Keith chose a spot with a strong mo­bile phone sig­nal and set­tled in as best they could but it was a long night.

‘It was not a ques­tion of be­ing afraid. I knew with the gear I was car­ry­ing I could make it through. It was about where we could get the best pro­tec­tion. I don’t know what the tem­per­a­ture was but there was bit­ing winds all night.

A call which comes in from 999 is routed to a call out of­fi­cer who will then no­tify the res­cue team.

They will then con­tact the per­son in trou­ble to as­sess the level of dan­ger.

There are two types of re­sponse, a very fo­cused one or a full-team call out.

Mem­bers of the DWMRT carry pagers which are ac­ti­vated when a call comes in de­tail­ing the ren­dezvous point for the res­cue and a brief de­scrip­tion of the res­cue it­self.

The mem­bers con­tact the call out of­fi­cer to let them know if they can re­spond or not. If they can it’s off to the ren­dezvous point for in­struc­tions. ‘It was a long time. I didn’t come down un­til just be­fore 8 a.m. on Tues­day.’

When he got the call on Mon­day night Paul had been up since 7 a.m. that morn­ing. He had com­pleted a day in work, worked late, came home and had his din­ner. He had lit­er­ally sat on the couch when he got the call and was off again without a sec­ond thought.‘It was a long and dif­fi­cult night and we weren’t even half way through the res­cue. Peo­ple were out on the hill in con­di­tions that no­body wanted to be out in.’

Paul said that given the hor­ren­dous weather con­di­tions he was cer­tain that Pat and Keith would not sur­vived an­other night on the moun­tain.

‘Once we knew they were found and be­ing cared for it gave us a great sense of re­lief. Every­one knew how se­ri­ous the sit­u­a­tion was. Joe O’Gor­man who is an ad­vanced para­medic with the HSE spent the night on the phone to them. We were aware that Keith was on a blood thin­ning drug which would have had an im­pact on him be­cause of the cold and it was a cause of con­cern to us.’ ‘We just con­cen­trated on stay­ing awake and got up on a reg­u­lar ba­sis to move around and keep our cir­cu­la­tion go­ing. I knew it was go­ing to be a hard night and a prob­lem but I knew what to do as I had done a bit of win­ter climb­ing.’ That night Pat and Keith kept each other awake telling jokes and singing. Pat said he had scaled Lugnaquilla the pre­vi­ous day without in­ci­dent but when the map blew away they were left without any way of get­ting their bear­ings in the dark.

‘I per­son­ally felt that we were go­ing to get off the moun­tain res­cue. I was con­fi­dent that if the moun­tain res­cue didn’t find us in day­light that I would be able to get us down.’

Shortly af­ter 11 a.m. on Tues­day morn­ing Pat and Keith were at­tempt­ing to move down the moun­tain when they heard res­cue teams above and be­low them. They then moved back to their orig­i­nal po­si­tion which was safer and waited for help.

Pat’s mother, Had­die, was bliss­fully un­aware of his sit­u­a­tion un­til about an hour be­fore he was found by the res­cue team as Pat had told his sis­ter to tell their mother that both he and Keith were spending the night in Glen­malure hav­ing had a few drinks af­ter their suc­cess­ful climb.

Pat was full of praise for the vol­un­teers who took part in the res­cue and paid trib­ute to the hard work­ing mem­bers of the lo­cal and na­tional moun­tain res­cue teams.

‘They were ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic. They are he­roes; it’s as sim­ple as that. They do it all on a vol­un­tary ba­sis and the per­sonal cost to them is ab­so­lutely im­mense. Most of them said last week that it was the most dif­fi­cult con­di­tions they had ever seen. I have noth­ing but good to say about them.’

Res­cue teams on top of Lugnaquilla dur­ing last week’s search and res­cue.

SUR­VIVOR - Pat Doyle.

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