Volunteers assist with rescue at Bundoran cliffs

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Irish Red Cross volunteers assist with rescue at Bundoran cliffs

On Sunday 23 June, the Irish Red Cross were involved in a rescue operation in Bundoran, Co. Donegal.

Patrick McGonagle, Irish Red Cross Donegal Deputy Area Director of Units  had just arrived home at 3.03am from the “Sea Sessions” music festival when he was called back for duty; a young woman had fallen fifty feet from a cliff in Tullan Strand on to the rock bed below, where luckily at the time, the tide was out.

After receiving the call, the Medilink staff along with three Irish Red Cross Donegal Area volunteers, went with an ambulance crew to assess the situation. The team could see the young woman below and through the helpful information of a local, realised they would be able to access the bottom of the cliff through a small, steep path which was unfortunately blocked off by a locked gate. After realising they would not be able to get the Red Cross 4x4 down the path through the gate, the event organisers were able to provide a stretcher buggy. After securing the young woman into the buggy, Patrick was involved in pushing the buggy back up the path – efforts which he attributes to “the brute strength of the RNLI and the Irish Red Cross.”

When the HSE ambulance arrived, the efforts of the emergency services on the scene had meant the frontline work had been completed and the young woman was able to go straight into the ambulance and she was brought to Sligo Universty Hospital. Patrick, who works in A&E and was familiar with the ambulance staff, travelled with the young woman to the hospital. The entire process took just about an hour and a half, from the moment Patrick received the call to the arrival of the ambulance at Sligo University Hospital – an impressive turnaround by all those involved.

The rescue of the young woman was a real team effort. The RNLI, the HSE, the fire brigade, Medilink and Event Medical Services (EMS) were all involved, not to mention the local insight from individuals in the community in directing the emergency services around the difficult landscape.

The Irish Red Cross is in its eleventh year of covering the Sea Sessions festival, a task which is undoubtedly getting more difficult as the crowd has doubled, from 5,000 attendees to 10,000. As Patrick says, “what started off with one wee ambulance, is now providing a 24-hour service from Thursday of the festival.” Members of the Donegal Area worked tirelessly over the course of the weekend to ensure the safety of the local community, and their efforts are to be commended as an impressive example of the Red Cross principles in action.

While this particular rescue gave cause for celebration it was short-lived as it emerged on Sunday afternoon that Manus Kelly, rally driver and local Fianna Fáil councillor, was sadly killed in a crash at the Donegal International Rally where Irish Red Cross volunteers had also been on duty. 

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