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Andy Kirkpatrick


09 August 2013

Ten tips for a mountain emergency

I was contacted by a climber called Emma a few weeks ago, wanting some help following an accident on the Ben this winter. She plans to cycle from John O'Groats to Lands End to help raise funds for Lochaber MRT, who rescued her, quite a novel idea. I know how tight climbers are, so thought maybe if she wrote ten tips of what to do if your in accident than that may help get the funds in, so here you go:

In January 2012 walking off a winter climb on the north face of Ben Nevis I slipped and fell 100m down a rocky wintery slope. I broke my pelvis in three places, dislocated my right knee and had a compound fracture of my left heel bone into the boot. I am very lucky to be alive and wouldn’t be without Lochaber Mountain Rescue.





The doctors did their best but the foot got infected and there was a huge risk that I would have to have it amputated. However, after 6 tough months of willing my foot to get better and high doses of antibiotics my foot finally recovered. Whilst I still have difficulty in walking, my foot has taken well to cycling. So I thought what better way to give something back to the Mountain Rescue Team who saved my life than to cycle the length of the country from John O'Groats to Lands’ End. I know it is going to be a huge challenge but I'm so grateful to be up and active after my continuous rehabilitation.

Please support me either by cycling alongside, driving a support vehicle, giving money or helping me train. I know this is going to be a huge challenge especially where I am starting from but we all know how important Mountain Rescue is.

10 Tips

  • 1.Go floppy/ limp
    My initial thought when falling was how to stop myself from being hurt too badly. Instinctively my body went completely limp and floppy which seemed to prevent me breaking too many bones.
  • 2.My Rucksacks saved my back
    I was wearing my rucksack when I fell and it was clear from the amount of damage that it sustained that it protected my back from trauma.
  • 3.Climb with good friends
    I was climbing with a good friend that day. As we knew each other well he knew the things that would lift my spirit and would keep me awake. This consisted of making me sing Disney songs that I knew all the words too!
  • 4.Stay awake
    Having seen friends become hypothermic on a previous expedition I was aware of the dangers of falling asleep in that state. Knowing how vital it was to not fall asleep helped me focus on staying awake!
  • 5.Always carry a belay jacket
    I am known amongst my friends for always having one with me but even when covered with four of them I was still cold on a Scottish winters evening.
  • 6.Keep calm
    This wasn’t done well by myself but was done amazingly well by my climbing partner who got his head into gear to call the mountain rescue and remember all his first aid training.
  • 7.Basic first aid training is a must ‘Should’ve done that first aid course’ was what some very kind onlookers said to me when arriving shortly before my climbing partner. This didn’t fill me with confidence but they did a good job keeping me calm until my I climbing partner arrived who was always top notch when it comes to first aid.
  • 8.Don’t skimp on safety equipment
    Always check your helmet for wear a tear. By the time I had stopped falling both the hat and helmet I had been wearing all day were nowhere to be seen. Fortunately I had recently replaced my old helmet and I am so glad I did.
  • 9.Never move someone with serious injuries
    With suspected back injuries keeping me still was crucial. Even though this prevented me being insulated from the cold ground it was still safer to wait for the helicopter to arrive and the skilled winch man to instruct everyone to body roll me onto a stretcher.
  • 10.Always say thank you
    At the time it’s ok to swear your head off at MRT and your friends but it’s important to thank them at a later date. Most Scots enjoy a wee dram but try to be original.

If you'd like to support Emma then you can donate at her JustGiving Page

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