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IMRA National Training Exercise

The 2002 IMRA National Training Exercise took place on the weekend of the 6th-7th April and involved over 80 mountain rescue personnel from all over the country, as well as many non-MR agencies such as Civil Defence, Order of Malta, Irish Coastguard, Water Rescue Groups, Garda Siochana, Air Accident Investigators, Media etc..

The weekend was based in Killarney International Youth Hostel in Aghadoe, and the exercise itself was centred in the Gap of Dunloe, where a simulated air accident had occurred, leaving some 20+ casualties and a number of 'fatalities'.

The weather was superb for the day and the exercise went off very well. See elsewhere on this page for reports (more reports to be uploaded soon).

Evening entertainment comprised a meal at Kate Kearney's Cottage, e-slide show of the day's activities from Jimmy Laide, the presentation of a number of Golden Karabiner Awards, and some superb music from local band Alanna.

A number of debriefs were held on the Sunday morning, during which the exercise was discussed in depth and learning points identified.

The Korean air crash several days later, during which some 30 survivors had to be evacuated from a mountainous area served as a chilly reminder that incidents such as this really can occur. Some of the TV pictures were uncannily reminiscent of scenes witnessed during the exercise, albeit more harrowing.

Kerry MRT would like to thank everyone involved in the weekend for all their efforts, particularly the staff of Aghadoe Youth Hostel who got up at some unearthly hour to ensure that a full cooked breakfast for 80 was available at 6am - fair play to them!!

Photo Gallery

Please click on an image to enlarge it:

Many thanks to Jimmy Laide and Aidan Forde for supplying the photographs shown here.
To view press photographs of the exercise visit www.macmonagle.com.

A Casualty's Story...

By John Forde

Two broken femurs. That’s what I had. Apparently I was losing blood at a fierce rate into both legs causing my thighs to swell to the size of small whale but I didn’t feel too bad as I lay in my sleeping bag around 8 o’clock waiting to be found, blissfully unconcerned of my critical condition. The sky was blue, no clouds, an easterly breeze and the Sun was rising over Purple Mountain. Jasus, ‘twas a grand morning for a call-out! I had the Civil Defence packed lunch and all the rest of the mountain tucker that I threw into the bag as I ran out the door earlier that morning. I had my mat underneath me, sleeping bag on and the hat on the head so, not surprisingly, I promptly fell asleep. I drifted off to the sounds of a local peregrine screaming at the intrusion of its patch of earth.

I was gently snoring as the first of the rescue team began to hover around the general vicinity of the ‘crash site’. At this stage I was roasting in the bag and dying to go to the jacks! But I couldn’t move in case I’d alert the rescue team of my hiding place. But it was no good, when Mammy Nature calls, she hollers so I undertook the most covert of ablutions ever undertake on Bull Mountain. I crawled back to my spot and waited to be man-handled by whatever unfortunate happened to come across me. As I lay back on my mat I began to practice how I would respond to the treatment that the rescuers would meat out. They didn’t know that I had two broken femurs so how do I let them know? And I was supposed to get worse as time went on, losing conciousness and so on. And I was only supposed to be able to give vague answers to their questions. This was going through my head as I heard a Dub accent getting closer. I lay still and watched as my man went past me, only 2 or 3 metres away! He went over towards a spot where I knew Paul was lying, dying of God knows what.

But a few minutes later Ann from the Glen of Imaall team and Mags from KMRT cornered me and started asking me questions like ‘What day is it?’ and ‘What’s your name?’. For a few seconds I forgot to act casualty-like and said ‘Sure, its Saturday you thick!’ then I copped on and started being unresponsive and generally a pain in the arse! Aidan Forde meanwhile hovered above, perched on a rock, observing the whole scene and scribbling down some notes. This went on for a while until Mags started a full body check. She soon copped on that I had two broken femurs and let the rest of the team know. The general feeling was that I was a critical case and should be off the the hill a.s.a.p. Sure enough, I was promoted to Priority 1. Then the news that the Shannon-based helicopter couldn’t come down for another hour and a half. It was decided that this was too long, that I’d be Tango4 in no time and that I needed to be off immediately. So the search started for a stretcher. I started to get hungry and needed to attend Mama Nature again so Lazarus rose and relieved and fed himself. TV3 then turned up a camera and, unbeknownst to me, started filming the goings-on from above.

Anyway, eventually a stretcher turned up and the best crack I’ve had on the hill in a while begun. Being horizontal and going downhill is a strange feeling. I couldn’t help looking forward to see where we were going and at one point all I could see was heather and the water of the lake below. I decided to enjoy it so I lay back, closed my eyes and placed my trust in the hands and shoulder muscles of the poor bastards to my left and right! In short order we at the cable lower point and Tim and Mike started to attach me to the line. I was none too confident in whole cable-lower thing until we were over the edge and dangling in free air. It turned out to be a very smooth ride and in no time reached the lake where I was put aboard my second type of transport – an inflatable. Across the lake and into the third – the ambulance. More questions and expert TLC. After all that I was fit to eat an equine quadruped so my nose led me to the Civil Defence’s tent for some beef stew and trifle! While savouring that I looked on as John O’Donoghue pressed the political flesh. After that I needed a pint of plain – cue Kates, hairy ears, ceol mór and good looking lead singers……

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