Derby Mountain Rescue Team were called to a dramatic multi-agency rescue at the foot of a cliff in Matlock Bath on Saturday afternoon (23rd August), when a climber fell around 25 feet into a difficult to access location.
The 42–year–old man from Sheffield had been climbing High Tor with his partner when the incident happened at around 3.30pm.
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue units and an EMAS paramedic were first called to the scene, including a specialist rope rescue unit from the fire service based at Matlock.
Due to the inaccessible nature of the base of High Tor, the casualty first had to be located. Members of the rope rescue unit abseiled from the top of High Tor to find the casualty, who had landed at the foot of the cliff face.
When he was located, it was decided that the skills of mountain rescue would also be required and the team were alerted. Whilst initial treatment was being provided by EMAS paramedics, mountain rescue members transported a stretcher and some specialist equipment along a narrow and difficult track to the scene. Team members then protected the casualty with a full body splint and transferred him to the specialist stretcher, capable of being lowered by ropes or winched into a helicopter.
The difficulty of the path back to the road meant carrying the stretcher out would take a considerable amount of time and require rope protection at key stages. Therefore, an RAF Sea King helicopter had also been called from RAF Leconfield with the hope of being able to winch the casualty from the ground. Whilst en route, the aircraft had to be diverted to another incident in North Wales, before heading back towards Matlock Bath, arriving at just after 6pm.
Due to the amount of tall trees by the foot of the cliff and the complete lack of any open spaces from which to winch the stretcher, the helicopter had a difficult job in lowering the winchman and had to resort to hovering over the edge of the cliff so he could walk down the cliff face whilst being lowered. The paramedic treating the casualty was then winched into the aircraft followed by the casualty, who was then flown to Nottingham Queen’s Medical Centre for further treatment.
A Derby Mountain Rescue spokesman said: “It was a difficult rescue, requiring the talents of a number of different agencies, but it was gratifying to see how well all services, both statutory and voluntary, were able to work seamlessly together to carry out an effective rescue.
“The RAF crew deserve special mention as they only had a narrow gap of about 6 feet between the cliff and the trees to lower their winchman and raise the casualty, which took some superb flying.”