This is the dramatic moment HM Coastguard rescued a teenager who tried to scale a 130ft cliff in Fethaland in Shetland yesterday evening.
HM Coastguard were alerted to the teenager’s plight at around 9.45pm yesterday when his teenage friend called emergency services asking for help.
The two youths had been walking at the top of the cliffs at Fethaland and had scaled down the cliffs in the afternoon. One of the young men had managed to climb back up the cliff but the other teenager couldn’t make his way back up.
By the time HM Coastguard were called, the young man had already been stuck for two hours and darkness had closed in and the tide was coming in.
Lerwick and Hillswick Coastguard Rescue Team, Aith Lifeboat and the HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Sumburgh were immediately sent to the scene.
With the helicopter arriving on scene first, they started to winch down the Winchman but due to bad turbulence and the close proximity of the cliff face they had to stop the operation and wait for the arrival of the Coastguard Rescue Teams. However, due to excellent communications on scene they were able to establish that the teenager was uninjured.
Once the Coastguard Rescue Teams had arrived, the Coastguard helicopter and the Aith Lifeboat used their night suns to illuminate the cliff face so that the rope technicians could set up their equipment in a rescue that was to last around four hours.
Once the casualty was recovered to the top, the Coastguard helicopter winched him and the Winchman on board and transported him to a waiting ambulance at Tingwall Airport. Despite being mildly hypothermic due to exposure to the wind and rain, the teenager was otherwise uninjured.
All teams were stood down just after 2am today (10 May).
HM Coastguard Incident Commander Dave Sweeney said: ‘This incident was a prime example of team working at its best. The conditions for rope rescue were very challenging indeed, but with the assistance from Sumburgh Coastguard helicopter, Aith Lifeboat and the Shetland Operations Centre (CGOC) Coastguard Rescue Teams from Lerwick and Hillswick were able to put their extensive training into practice , with Cliff Technician Jamie Newlands safely extracting the casualty from the bottom of the cliff.’
HM Coastguard helicopter Captain Martin Naylor said: ‘Last night’s rescue was one of the most difficult rescues we’ve seen for a while. On scene, and having made one attempt, it was clear that winching our Winchman down to the scene was too dangerous – particularly given that the casualty declared himself to be uninjured but cold. We winched our Winchman to the top of the cliffs so that he could speak in person to the casualty and the Hillswick and Lerwick Cliff Rescue Teams. It was quickly clear that the best and safest course of action would be to allow the CRTs to commence recovery of the casualty whilst Coastguard Rescue 900 returned to Sumburgh for fuel.
‘When we arrived back on scene, our job was to illuminate the cliffs whilst the CRTs recovered the casualty. Aith Lifeboat also stood by in case their fast rescue craft was required. The CRTs performed a deeply impressive and safe recovery of the casualty which is testament to the dedicated training they regularly undertake.
‘We would like to extend our sincere thanks the Shetland Coastguard Training Team leaders – Dave Sweeney and Alex Dodge, who have recently put much work into further training for Shetland’s CRTs towards cliff rescue extraction. Their efforts and the considerable skill of the CRTs last night resulted in a successful and safe rescue.’
CLIFF SAFETY ADVICE
Make sure that you are properly equipped for walking along coastal paths. In particular remember to wear sturdy shoes or boots and check the weather forecast and tidal times before you set out. Carry a fully charged mobile phone, and tell someone where you are going and what time you will be home. Only use the designated paths, take notice of any warning signs and fences in place, be responsible and don’t take an unnecessary risks.
Do not attempt to climb up or down cliffs unless you are properly equipped and trained to do so and do not attempt to climb cliffs as a short cut back to the top and again.
Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if you see anyone in difficulty or you get into difficulty yourself.