We are delighted that two of our staff walked away with the “Outstanding Bravery” award in the Causeway Coast and Glens People of the year Awards 2018.
On Bank Holiday Monday on 19 March, Paramedic Dominic Mackle and Emergency Medical Technician Nick Hawryliw, based in Ballycastle Ambulance Station, were tasked to attend an incident involving a 22 year old male who had fallen 60 feet onto the cliffs whilst abseiling off Torr Head close to Murlough Bay.
They were unable to bring the ambulance as close to the incident as they would have liked and commenced their rescue operation by having to trek, carrying their heavy equipment, across wet, muddy and rocky terrain to reach the top of the cliff. Knowing that the patient’s injuries were potentially life threatening after falling such a distance, they decided that they had to get to him as soon as possible to carry out an effective assessment and so they started down the cliff.
As they got closer they began to realise how precariously the patient was positioned and knew they had taken the right decision to climb down. An initial assessment revealed that he had sustained chest injuries during the fall and was finding it extremely difficult to breathe.
Working as a team, Nick quickly protected the patient’s neck and spine allowing Dominic to carry out paramedic interventions to treat a bi-lateral pneumothorax. This treatment involves inserting needles into the patient’s chest and is difficult to perform in a stable clinical environment but is much more complicated in the situation where they found themselves – at the bottom of a cliff in poor weather conditions. Their ability to perform this life-saving technique under such conditions was nothing short of extraordinary.
Dominic and Nick continued to treat and reassure the patient that everything was going to be ok while waiting for the Coastguard to arrive. On their watch, he was getting out of there safe!
Working together, the coastguard and the ambulance crew soon had the patient on board the helicopter. Dominic was also hoisted into the helicopter and continued his treatment until their arrival at the RVH in Belfast.
Their actions on this day speak of them as not only consummate professionals but of them as human beings who care deeply for others who find themselves in hopeless and dangerous situations. They could have, in their risk assessment, decided to stay at the top of the cliff and wait for assistance from the Coastguard. But they sensed immediate danger and they decided they had to do something more.
Their decision to scale down the cliff face was the major factor in this young man’s survival. Their treatment further ensured it. Their arrival and presence would undoubtedly have brought a feeling of hope to him in his hour of need and their staying with him until he reached the Royal would have made him realise that he was always going to have someone at his side who were totally invested in ensuring that he was going to come to no further harm.
Congratulations to Dominic and Nick. You are now officially heroes and we are so proud of you.