The annual general meeting of the South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association was delayed for hours last Saturday as its members went to the aid of three injured hill walkers, who slipped and fell from a height of between 30 to 50 metres in the Comeragh Mountains.
Mountain rescuers were travelling to the meeting venue at Aherlow House Hotel near Bansha on Saturday when they received the emergency call out shortly before 1pm.
They immediately turned around and headed for Coumshinguan Lake in the Comeraghs where four experienced walkers had got into difficulty.
The three men and one woman had been climbing up a gully at the back of the famous corrie lake when one of the men slipped and fell.
The second man fell when he tried to reach out and help his colleague and he was followed by the woman hiker, who also lost her balance on the mountainside, which was extremely wet and slippery following a week of wet weather and torrential rain the previous night.
South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association PRO Annie Ryan said the three walkers fell from a height of between 30 and 50 metres and sustained upper body injuries that weren’t life threatening. The injuries ranged from a suspected dislocated shoulder to injured ribs.
The walkers immediately contacted the emergency services via mobile phone and about 30 South Eastern Mountain Rescue team members made their way to the site of the incident.
The rescuers set up an incident base in Kilclooney Woods located near the Carrick-on-Suir to Lemybrien Road and in heavy drizzle they brought the walkers down from the mountain after they were assessed by SEMRA paramedics.
As their injuries were to their upper bodies, the hikers were able to walk down from the mountainside with the rescuers.
The Fire Service and HSE ambulance service attended the incident and the casualties were transported to Waterford Regional Hospital for medical treatment.
Annie Ryan said the walkers were very lucky their injuries weren’t much more serious given the height they fell from.
“Everybody thought it was going to be much more serious and it was a relief to get them down off the mountain,” she said.
Later the same afternoon, the mountain rescue team received a second emergency call in relation to two walkers, who lost their way in the fog on The Galtee Mountains near Cahir.
The walkers were on the phone to a SEMRA team member when they met another hiker, who was able to guide them off the mountain.
SEMRA team leader Ray Bradfield said it wasn’t surprising to receive a surge in search and rescue calls out during this wet winter weather. He appealed to walkers to exercise extreme caution when considering hiking in the hills at this time of year.
He advised walkers to always check a reliable weather forecast particular to the area they are planning to visit, bring plenty of food and a hot drink, wear correct walking attire including hillwalking boots and bring extra layers of clothes and waterproofs.
“The mountains have a unique microclimate and the weather there can change with alarming speed. Should any walkers need our assistance on the mountains, please call 999 or 112 and ask for Mountain Rescue,” he said.
Meanwhile, after successfully rescuing the walkers from Coumshinguan, the SEMRA volunteers held their agm at Rathgormack Community & Hiking Centre on Saturday evening.