Hayfever is hitting me pretty hard this year – I’ve had a number of people comment that they’re finding it difficult to cope as well, so it looks like there’s seriously potent pollen out there for some reason. As a result, I’ve not been spending much time outdoors, but I decided to partake in this month’s exercise – the grass pollen season is nearing its end, so I should be calming down a bit in theory. Thursday night however brought some interesting news – this month’s exercise was to be a search in the Gower, for the chap we were looking for two weeks ago.

So, with the Met Office promising gales of up to 50mph, we headed off in the glorious sunshine on Sunday morning, with the remnants of last night’s torrential rain still making it’s presence felt on the heads of the valleys road. Down on the Gower, the wind was gusting uncomfortably high, so the pneumatic aerial mast was only raised a little and control was set up. Tasked with leading a party in an area of fields the police needed covered, we headed off and spent the next few hours making our way through fields of …well knee-high (or occasionally higher) meadow grass – that is, grass with a random spattering of wild flowers and grasses in it. In other words, hayfever hell.

Nevertheless, onwards we plodded working our way through the fields and hedgerows. In searches like this, where there’s a real possibility that the person you’re looking for is dead, you have to look under hedges and in undergrowth in case they’ve crawled in there to seek shelter and died. It’s not a particularly joyful kind of searching and, heartless though it may seem to onlookers, we joke and laugh amongst ourselves, sometimes with exceedingly black humour to try and keep our spirits high.

By 1400 I was slowly collapsing in a sneezing lump of streaming mucous and with everyone’s stomachs grumbling we headed back to the pub for a lunch of sausage and chips. It’s amazing just how good simple food tastes after hard work. With the masses fed and watered, the afternoon’s plans were outlined and with a few changes of plan as more information about the morning’s searches was acted upon, I ended up staying around the control vehicle – good for my hayfever at least!

By 1700 it was decided that we’d done enough and the long job of packing up and making the vehicles ready for the next job, whenever that may be, was started. No sooner had I taken the cap off the generator to check the fuel levels than the pagers went off – area call in the Swansea area. What luck – we were already in the Swansea area. So, hurriedly repacking everything, mobiles, radios and police radios blaring all around us as more information rapidly came in, we jumped into Alpha and headed off – our destination was north of Swansea, in Glais.

The journey through Swansea was rapid – combination of sirens and two-tone air horn works well to clear traffic on what had been a very busy day in Swansea with the Race for Life on. It didn’t take us long to clear the traffic and as we arrived on scene the full details were apparent. Two men had fallen 25m down a cliff face – ambulance and fire brigade on scene, 169 en route in.

A complete contrast to the gentle start to that morning’s activities, helmets and harnesses were thrown on and within minutes the area was empty of personnel as people headed up to the casualty site. I stayed behind to man the radios and start the paperwork. It soon became apparent however that they desperately needed more personnel up on scene. Leaving the incident in the hands of a senior member who couldn’t go onto the hill, I headed off. Winching the casualty

169 had already winched the first casualty out as I arrived on scene to help with the second casualty. Helimed was providing some medical assistance along with the paramedic winchman from 169; the fire brigade was helping us with the technical equipment and they’d already cleared a few trees to allow 169 to winch clearly. It didn’t take long for the chap to be packaged properly and his stretcher was soon being passed the 20m up to the winching point hand-over-hand, his IV bag following him. The usual clatter of rotors overhead soon drowned out any conversation and within minutes, the casualty and winchman were on board and rapidly making their way to Morriston hospital which was only a few minutes away, leaving us to clear up and get everyone out safely. Reversing down the track was interesting, and we passed Pete our team leader giving a TV interview at the bottom of the hill on our way out.

It was a good job for what was a long and fruitless search – always nice to end the day on a high note.

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One Response to “Sun, wind, pollen and rocks”

  1. Bronchitikat says:

    You allergic to any particular kind of pollen? Or just pollen in general? Poor you, anyhow. Otherwise it sounds like a Good Day Out!