Man airlifted to safety after rock climbing fall

Man airlifted to safety after rock climbing fall


Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

A mountain rescue volunteer has been airlifted to safety after he was injured in a fall during a training exercise in Co Clare this morning.

The man, understood to be in his 40s, fell about 3 metres (10 feet) onto a stone surface.

The accident happened at around 11.45am while a number of volunteer groups, believed to be members of Mountain Rescue Ireland, were participating in a training course in the area.

Fellow climbers quickly went to the man’s aid while others raised the alarm. Another group member returned to main road to meet emergency services and direct them to the scene.

In the meantime, watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry mounted a multi-agency rescue operation.

The area where the accident happened was on the ocean side of the R447 Wild Atlantic Way at Ailladee between Doolin and Fanore. The limestone landscape is tiered towards the sea and comprises a range of cliff and rock walls of varying heights. The area is not accessible by land vehicles.

Emergency services arriving at the scene this afternoon – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

Volunteers from the Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard were first to arrive at the scene quickly following by National Ambulance Service (NAS) paramedics and Gardaí. The Shannon-based Coast Guard helicopter was also tasked to assist in the operation.

NAS paramedics, including a specially trained advanced paramedic, assessed and treated the casualty at the scene while they waited for the rescue helicopter.

Conditions in the area were poor at the time with low visibility, heavy mist and rain. A Coast Guard volunteer used a bright red flare to mark the location for the helicopter crew.

On arrival at the scene, a winchman/paramedic was lowered from Rescue 115 and the casualty was prepared for transportation.

The man was winched on board the helicopter and flown to Shannon Airport from where he was taken by road ambulance to University Hospital Limerick for treatment. The rescue operation lasted about an hour.

The man’s injuries are not believed to be serious.

A winchman/paramedic is lowered from Rescue 115 – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019
A spokesperson for Mountain Rescue Ireland (MRI) said: “Today a member of Mountain Rescue Ireland suffered an injury while attending a training event in Doolin Co. Clare. The patient was treated at the scene and airlifted to Limerick University Hospital for further treatment. The extended MRI family wish the patient a full and speedy recovery.”

MRI would not comment however on the circumstances of the accident and how it happened.

The area where the incident occurred is very popular with climbing enthusiasts and has seen a number of accidents in recent years. The location is also frequently used by the Irish Coast Guard, Defence Forces and Mountain Rescue groups for training exercises.

In 2011, an Irish army sergeant was injured when he fell almost 20 feet from a cliff in the same area. He was assessing other climbing instructors at the time of the accident.

The man was winched on board Rescue 115 and flown to Shannon Airport – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019
Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.