Monday, 28 January 2008

A sad day

Well the last 72 hours have been pretty intense for the crew. The weekend heralded an unprecedented 4 shouts, 3 of them involving both boats and 3 of them being cliff jobs. Sadly one has resulted in a fatality after a woman fell from the cliff near the lighthouse. A horribly tragic end to what must have been a superb Sunday stroll.

On top of all this was a fundraising day at Harman's Cross for the RNLI SOS campaign and a 4 mile FunRun for the Swanage Sea Rowing Club and an exercise on Sunday morning. I suspect most of the crew are now feeling a little bit jaded.

To be honest it is all pretty hard to make sense of. We have not had a shout for the last month (not unusual for January) and then suddenly we get not one but 4. And, as is often the way, they continued to follow the recent pattern of being people in trouble on the cliffs.

8pm Saturday night brought a climber stuck about 5 metres up the cliff face at Marmolata buttress. With a bit of a swell running the ILB did a superb job to get Matt ashore then, once he had talked the climber down, to recover them both. Well driven John Deas.

Sunday morning brought an exercise which was followed rapidly by a call to a climber who had fallen from the cliffs and was in the water to the west of the lighthouse. By the time the lifeboats arrived he had been recovered but had pretty nasty head injuries. Coastguard helicopter 'India Juliet' landed it's winchman on the shore and swiftly winched the man and took him to Dorchester hospital.

Both boats were washing down from the previous shout when the VHF call came to return to the scene where a female had been seen to fall into the water from the cliff. Again both boats proceeded at full throttle to Cattle Troughs, the faster D Class Lifeboat arriving first. A Police Officer at the top of the cliff indicated that the ILB should search back eastwards, so the ILB searched slowly eastwards while the ALB proceeded slowly from the lighthouse westwards. The casualty was spotted from the ALB and Crewman John Deas landed onto the rocks from the ILB shortly afterwards. Coastguard Helicopter 'India Juliet' again arrived at the scene and lowered its winchman and a stretcher to the casualties position. Three further crew from the Lifeboat were put ashore to help move the badly injured casualty, who was then airlifted to hospital. Both boats were again released and returned to station at 1510hrs. Our thoughts are with the casualties and their families and friends.

Incidentally, the climber from the previous shout who had entered the water to help recover the fallen climber had become hypothermic at the top of the cliff and was also recovered by helicopter to hospital.

Sadly the lady did not survive.


Douglas Wilcox said...

John, a very sad day indeed for the lady and her family but also a very good day for those who were rescued. Thanks to all involved.

René Seindal said...

I can't help think it must be very hard psychologically doing these kind of rescue missions. A bit like the experiences policemen and firemen have.

I hope you all manage to cope, even though its hard.

Mart said...

It is never easy to cope with such things, but you should take satisfaction knowing that you did your best. Sadly sometimes people are beyond even the very best help.

I'm sure I will be teaching you to suck eggs when I say this, but don't bottle things up, talk to your mates as you debrief in the pub - I am sure you will.

Thoughts with you all.

lifeboatjohn said...


I had a chance to have a good chat to John Deas (first ashore to the lady) tonight. Your words are very wise, I think we all like to pretend that these things don't affect us......they clearly do. That said, I'm sure that the only therapy we need is your advised debrief n the pub!


Anonymous said...

I saw this in the paper today, sounds like the same job.