She stopped for a second to catch her breath as her husband laughed with their three year old daughter on his shoulders. She smiled – it had been a wonderful day walking around the Waterfalls, but they needed to head back now and get something to eat. She looked around, admiring the view and smiled again as she spotted another family on the path below them – three adults and what looked like a young girl. Older than their child, this girl must have been about 10 – and she watched horrified as the girl disappeared from view down the impossibly steep bank, the mother screaming for her child. She shouted at her husband and threw off her rucksack as her nursing instincts kicked in and she headed down to help. Her husband held their daugher safe with one hand and quickly dialled with the other.

I was just getting my kit ready for training when the pager went off. “Crap,” I thought, “another admin message.” My heart skipped a beat as I stared at the message:


I threw my kit back together and rushed out of the house, brushing off the poor door-to-door salesman who at that point was trying to come up my steps to sell me cheaper gas and electricity. Bouncing into the car with my kit, I shouted out an explanation as I quickly hit a pre-programmed sequence of keystrokes on my mobile that sent a message off that I was en route to base. Within seconds my car was gone as I headed up the A470. Within minutes of pulling into base, five of us were putting final touches to the landrover that sat on the concrete outside the front doors, blue lights already lit. We already knew the RV was Porth yr Ogof and we were soon on the road, making our way through the light evening traffic on the Heads of the Valleys road. Another message – the RV had moved to Clun Gwyn Farm, and the casualty was a young girl fallen by the falls. Lacing my boots up as we went, our siren echoing off the surrounding houses, we headed along country lanes to the RV.

Several vehicles made the RV easy to spot and as we jumped out, we heard requests over the radio for kit. We were quickly dispatched along the track to Sgwd y Pannwr waterfall, where the girl was thought to be. As we headed off, I heard a message over the radio – 169 was inbound, with an ETA of 1953, 13 minutes from now. We quickly headed along the track around the falls and down towards where we thought the casualty would be, and quickly changed course when we saw 169 hovering above the casualty site.

She watched as people appeared as if from nowhere with equipment and radios and helmets, all coming to help this girl. Two people attended to the girl where she’d fallen, another three were busy with some equipment and a few others were busy milling around looking like they were discussing options for a way out. A noise made her look up and she saw a second helicopter – the first had landed and a few minutes later two paramedics in flying suits had come down the path.This one was different though. Bigger, and yellow…who was this?

We headed to the casualty site where we found the casualty on a path on steep ground. Kit came out and we were soon tasked with various tasks – carrying kit, changing oxygen cylinders and helping with the evac plan. Pretty soon we were ready to move the casualty. The plan was that we’d carry the casualty up to the waiting air ambulance where the paramedic who’d administered drugs already could continue his care until hospital. The mother would be taken onboard 169 and get to the hospital minutes before the air ambulance and await her daughter’s arrival.

Amazed, she stood to one side. On such a narrow path there were now over a dozen people each moving with a purpose, efficiently carrying out their task, with one person in an orange jacket stood in the middle directing everyone like a conductor and his orchestra. Gently the stretcher rose and moved off and the people left quickly grabbed all of the remaining equipment and helped her up the path.

We arrived at the clearing in the forestry where the air ambulance had grabbed the only landing spot. 169 hovered above the tree stumps and the mother was rapidly winched in and 169 headed to the hospital. We loaded the casualty into the air ambulance and watched as they fired her up. With the sky rapidly darkening, the air ambulance quickly took off for hospital.

She watched as the smaller red helicopter rose gently into the evening sky. Her husband had his hand on her shoulder and she held her daughter close as she offered a prayer for the poor girl flying over her and her family. The rest of the family had already headed back along the path. She realised how dark it was getting suddenly, and wondered now how they were going to get back with the light dying.

We headed back to control taking with us some passers-by who’d helped the casualty before we arrived. We quickly offered them a lift back to their car and while one of the vehicles did that, we stopped for cups of tea, cans of coke and a quick debrief. Thanks was received from the mother who’d day had gone so badly wrong and to top it all off had been winched into a Sea King – quite an unnerving experience at the best of times. We also received hearfelt thanks from the family and also from the lads of the air ambulance.

A good callout, but definately time for a quick pint after all that…

I tried to get two viewpoints at the same time here, don’t know if it worked. Let me know what you think. Some cracking photos too, that last one I particularly like. I have taken some artistic license in places to fit the story better, and I have changed some details, especially of the casualty.

4 Responses to “The Fall”

  1. bronchitikat says:

    Great storytelling, I liked the two points of view – kinda like that programme Michael Buerk used to present a while back! Good pix, & a happy ending.

    Well done all concerned.

    However, being a fussy old Englishspeaker – “Thanks _were_ received from the mother” & it’s “definItely” despite what one reads on LJ!

  2. taffyboy says:

    Meh, it was written at about 3am… I may re-jig a few sections later, I’m not entirely happy with the flow of a few things.

  3. bronchitikat says:

    I don’t do 3am, if I can possibly avoid it. Too old for that sort of thing these days!

    On the whole thought it flowed quite well.

  4. alex_holden says:

    I preferred the old single-POV style, sorry. I’m more interested in hearing your insider’s report of what happened than what you imagine a member of the public may have felt while watching the proceedings.