A kayaker spent almost two hours trapped in a raging river in a 35ft deep gorge in Co Clare this afternoon while five others managed to escape to safety.
The alarm was raised shortly before 4.00pm today when it was reported that a group of kayakers had gotten into difficulty near Doolin. They had been kayaking down the Aille River which runs between Lisdoonvarna and Doolin when they got into trouble.
A multi-agency rescue operation was promptly mounted involving Clare County Fire and Rescue Service, the Irish Coast Guard and National Ambulance Service. Gardaí also attended the incident.
Two units of the fire brigade from Ennistymon, including members specially trained in swift water rescue, were sent to the scene along with additional personnel from Ennis. The Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard was also tasked to the incident.
The kayakers got into trouble in a deep gorge where the river narrows. Five of the group managed to climb onto the bank and pull themselves to safety. They were escorted to safety by fire service personnel. One man however was left trapped in the river.
It’s understood that he grabbed onto a rock and held on for a time. When he realised he would not be able to get out by himself, the alarm was raised by his friends.
Fire service personnel from Ennistymon were first to arrive at the scene and had to use a 4×4 vehicle to negotiate a muddy track to reach the scene. Fire crews also used chainsaws to cut away trees and shrubbery before they could climb down to the casualty while secured by ropes.
The Shannon-based Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 115, was placed on standby but wasn’t tasked as the casualty was said not to be in imminent danger.
Doolin Coast Guard personnel used an all-terrain vehicle to help them access the area and transport climbing equipment. Members also climbed down the steep gorge wall to assist fire crews.
Almost two hours after the alarm was raised, the casualty was safely recovered from the gorge. He was initially assessed by first responders and later by a National Ambulance Service advanced paramedic.
A second kayaker was also assessed after he suffered a head injury while was not reported to be serious. After being checked over by the advanced paramedic both were reunited with their friends and allowed return home.