Con­cern as fire­fight­ers try to save stranded sheep

Ab­erdeen­shire: Spe­cial­ist fire crews sent from across Tay­side and Fife in at­tempt to res­cue sheep that had fallen down cliff at Nigg

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - The courier & ad­ver­tiser satur­day, septem­ber 16, 2017 mark mackay

Spe­cial­ist fire crews were taken from sta­tions across Tay­side and Fife in a doomed bid to save a sheep in Ab­erdeen­shire.

Five crews were despatched to a cliff­side near Nigg Bay to try to res­cue the stranded an­i­mal, only for it to be shot dead on the ad­vice of a vet.

Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue said its lo­cal crews did not have the rope res­cue skills re­quired to un­der­take the po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous op­er­a­tion.

Mid Scot­land and Fife Con­ser­va­tive MSP Murdo Fraser said the en­tire episode “sounded like the plot of a 70s sit­com”.

He called for fire crews to be trained in as many dif­fer­ent means of res­cue as pos­si­ble to avoid leav­ing ar­eas with re­duced cover.

The in­ci­dent took place last month when the an­i­mal be­came stranded on a cliff at Nigg af­ter it strayed from nearby fields.

A farmer no­ti­fied Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue to the plight of the sheep at around 5pm.

Crews ini­tially hoped to carry out a res­cue with the aid of a coast­guard team.

How­ever, as fire crews from Perth, Dundee, Lochgelly and In­ver­ness made their way to the scene, a vet was li­ais­ing with coast­guard crews and de­cided the res­cue at­tempt was too risky.

The Coast­guard said the an­i­mal had “fallen too far down the cliff and it would have put crews at risk to try and res­cue it”.

In­stead, a de­ci­sion was taken by the vet to “dis­patch” the sheep, an ac­tion that was un­der­taken “us­ing a firearm” by the farmer, the owner of the an­i­mal.

Mr Fraser said the in­ci­dent il­lus­trated the need for more ex­ten­sive train­ing of fire crews to pro­tect ser­vices lo­cally.

“Call­ing out mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent fire crews and the Coast­guard to help res­cue a sin­gle sheep, only for it to be shot, sounds like the plot of a 70s sit­com and not mod­ern-day emer­gency ser­vices in Scot­land,” he said.

“If res­cu­ing stranded or in­jured live­stock is to be the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the fire and res­cue ser­vice then it should be a core el­e­ment of fire crew train­ing.

“This in­ci­dent il­lus­trates that gaps in knowl­edge ex­ist across the coun­try.

“It is there­fore im­por­tant that fire crews across the coun­try are trained in as many fields of res­cue as pos­si­ble to avoid a sit­u­a­tion where other ar­eas are left with re­duced cover.”

A Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice spokesman said ad­di­tional train­ing in al­ter­na­tive res­cue meth­ods was un­der­way.

“There are plans to train a spe­cial­ist rope res­cue team at Al­tens in Aberdeen,” he said.

“There are also spe­cially trained teams across Scot­land who serve com­mu­ni­ties at in­ci­dents re­quir­ing a rope res­cue re­sponse, such as moun­tain res­cue and coast­guard, with whom we work in part­ner­ship at many in­ci­dents.”

mmackay@the­courier.co.uk Ro­hingya Mus­lim chil­dren, who re­cently crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, reach out to catch clothes thrown towards them by lo­cals near the Balukhali refugee camp in Bangladesh. Pic­ture: AP.

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