A DOG trapped for five days on a cliff was returned safely to its owners yesterday (15/12/09). Sam, a 13-year-old Springer Spaniel, was rescued from a narrow ledge at Tormore Cliffs above Glencar Lake in north Leitrim.

It took Sligo Leitrim MRT more than four hours to bring the dog to safety on Monday. Alan Sayers from Sligo and Leitrim Mountain Rescue said the operation was carried out in difficult conditions.  “We were on an exercise in the area on Sunday so we were kitted-out and at the scene within 10 minutes when we got the call. But it was pitch-dark by that time and we had to abandon the mission until the next morning,” Mr Sayers said.Meanwhile, the dog was barking in distress while balancing on a narrow ledge with very little room to move. It took four hours for a mountain rescue team of four to bring the dog to safety. One team member abseiled 20ft down a cliff face towards Sam after ropes were anchored to the top.

But the animal was so weak that it was a dead weight and as a result it was impossible to carry him up the slope. Instead, the rescuer abseiled a further 60ft down the cliff to ground level with the dog in his arms. Mr Sayers, who remained on top of the cliff holding the ropes, said: “It was very precarious because there was so much loose rock so it had to be done very slowly. It was a tricky operation.”

After a small amount of food and water Sam was soon wagging his tail. The Gilmartin family, who live in Ballintrillick village, Co Sligo, about 20km from where the dog was found, were reunited with their pet yesterday.

Further details -  Irish Independent Article 

14 year old Springer Spaniel Sam, who was trapped on the mountains at Glencar for five days is reunited with his owners, thanks to Sligo/Leitrim Mountain Rescue team at Glencar Co. Sligo. L-R Annie Gilmartin, owner, Conal Sexton, mountain rescue, Andy Gilmartin, Mark Magennis who found the dog, Heidi Wickham, mountain rescue and Mairead Gilmartin. Photo: James Connolly / PicSell8

14 year old Springer Spaniel Sam, who was trapped on the mountains at Glencar for five days is reunited with his owners, thanks to Sligo/Leitrim Mountain Rescue team at Glencar Co. Sligo. L-R Annie Gilmartin, owner, Conal Sexton, mountain rescue, Andy Gilmartin, Mark Magennis who found the dog, Heidi Wickham, mountain rescue and Mairead Gilmartin. Photo: James Connolly / PicSell8

A major search was initiated last Thursday in County Fermanagh following reports of a light aircraft crash in the area between Enniskillen and Belcoo. Members of the Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team were scrambled following a request for assistance from the local Northwest team in what developed into a major regional search operation involving three Mountain Rescue Teams, Sligo Coast Guard and PSNI helicopters and local farmers.

The Northwest Team was tasked by the PSNI following a number of sightings of a plane in distress allied to reports of a loud crashing sound.

“At this stage visibility was practically nil due to the severe rain showers affecting the region. The Police in Fermanagh requested the deployment of a large number of personnel to conduct a search of a very extensive area and we responded to this along with our colleagues in the Donegal Team. Nine team members immediately made themselves available to assist in this operation with a second group ready to travel later in the afternoon,” said Alan Sayers of the Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescure Team.

Two of the Leitrim based members were first to arrive at the Incident Centre in Derrygonnelly where they were immediately tasked with searching a remote upland and wooded area.

“Thankfully visibility improved later in the afternoon allowing police helicopters to scan the search area whilst up to forty mountain rescue member combed the hills and forests surrounding the area. By late evening we had found no trace of any aircraft whilst aviation authorities confirmed that they could account for all registered aircraft. Although we are satisfied that this was not a hoax type of incident and some mystery remains as to the origin of the call out the search was discontinued from 1800 hours. “As a team, we were extremely pleased by the quick response time and dedication of our members in the face of what did appear to herald a long and harrowing search operation,” concluded Mr. Sayers.

There was double tragedy for the local mountain rescue team at the weekend with the recovery of the remains of a farmer in Drumkeerin and an exhaustive search for a missing Czech national in Donegal. Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team was called to Manorhamilton last Thursday night where man had collapsed in a remote area of Drumkeerin. He was pronounced dead by a GP but due to poor accessibility and the difficulty of the terrain gardai and ambulance personnel were unable to remove his remains.“Using our rescue stretcher we succeeded in removing the man’s remains to a roadway from where he was conveyed to Sligo General Hospital,” explained Team Leader Alan Sayers. “As a team we would like to again extend our sympathy to the family on their sudden and tragic loss,” he added. The next morning they were called to assist the Donegal Mountain Rescue Team after a 57-year-old Czech national went missing from cliffs in the Glencolmcille area. He had been fishing from the sea cliffs there during the week and had failed to return home. After two days of searching the teams were able to find the area of the cliffs where he fell.It appears that he had himself tied with to the cliffs but the rope fayed and his fell off a sharp drop into water below.It is believed his body will be washed back onto shore on Friday and a search will continue then involving Sligo rescue helicopter.
“As a rescue team,” concluded Mr Sayers, “our primary focus is on preserving life. Fatalities are however also an integral part of mountain rescue and we do our best in these circumstances to recover the remains of the deceased in a dignified manner.
“It’s very important for their families.”

Team Searching in the Glencolmcille area

Team Searching in the Glencolmcille area

he Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team, working in close contact with the Strandhill based Coastguard Rescue Helicopter, was involved in a dramatic cliff top rescue on Tuesday last, July 14th.

Early that afternoon the Gardai in Sligo tasked the local mountain rescue team to deal with a 999 call received from a party of nine holidaying in the area. According to team leader, Alan Sayers, initial reports were very confusing as the climbers were unsure of their location.

“The person who initiated the 999 call was in a very distressed state; a member of the party had attempted to scale a steep cliff and was now unable to move on the cliff face being on very precarious footing. The situation was further complicated as the group did not know their location.

“We questioned them over the phone as to prominent visible landmarks and what details they could recall from their initial car journey. From this information we guessed them to be somewhere above Lough Melvin possibly on Arroo mountain.”

“As this was a potentially very serious incident and our identified location could have been completely erroneous we tasked the local Coastguard Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopter to assist in the search while we also activated our neighbouring Donegal based M.R team who responded immediately,” said Mr. Sayers.

“Whilst the team assembled and travelled to Lough Melvin a member from the area scouted the area by road in advance of the main team. This member located the party on Arroo Mountain and was able to reach them quickly with the aid of local farmers who supplied a quad bike to enable quick access.

“At this stage the man on the cliff had been there for almost an hour. Luckily conditions were good despite a brief rain shower. However, he was in imminent danger of panic, shock or cramp, any move by him on the cliff could have resulted in a very dangerous fall.

” By now the Coastguard helicopter had reached the rescue area, the winch man was lowered to the casualty and on the second attempt reached him. From here he was quickly winched into the helicopter and conveyed to Sligo General Hospital Emergency Department for assessment.

“Mountain Rescue Team members remained in the area to ensure the remaining members of the party descended safely from the mountain. This incident,” concluded Mr Sayers, ” is a very good example of the value of a quick response time and close cooperation between emergency services in averting what could have been a very serious incident.”

The Sligo/ Leitrim Mountain Rescue team was involved in sixteen incidents during 2008, statistics for last year have revealed. The team is one of twelve operating in Ireland, ten in the south and two in the north. According to the Mountain Rescue Association of Ireland, 2008 was “consistently busy”, with summer the busier season and over half of all incidents occurring at weekends, Sunday being the busiest day.

As the IMRA released countrywide figures, it also issued some timely safety advice for those climbing mountains, warning that although they are physically easy to access and are not high by international standards, the mountains of Ireland in both summer and winter provide serious and challenging terrain. ”People underestimate the difficulties involved and frequently lack the range of skills necessary to meet the challenge,” said Gerry Christie, IMRA public relations officer. Specific mountaineering skills were needed to manage the risks involved and while some of these were technical, equally important were judgement and decision making, he added. Among the safety guidelines are the need for climbers to pay particular heed to the weather forecast and to choose routes that are appropriate to the prediction conditions and the competence of climbers and their party; the need to be well equipped with warm clothing, food, hot drinks and the right equipment, while the ability to navigate accurately and efficiently in low visibility in all terrain was the single most important skill a hill goes could possess as navigational error remained the single greatest contributory factor to Mountain Rescue callouts.

Climbers are also encouraged to allow lots of time and to start early, as it is better to be looking at spare time than looking for it. ”Don’t allow your ambition exceed your ability. Please don’t take any risks,” said Mr. Christie. He added that if things did go wrong, people should stay calm, think clearly and think logically. ”Knowledge is the most important thing carried by anyone in the mountains and it doesn’t weigh a thing,” noted.

SEAN McSweeney, Annie West and Heidi Wickham – just some of the internationally renowned Sligo based artists exhibiting at a special fundraising art showcase to be held in Sligo this weekend.

All the artists involved in this innovative project are giving 50% of the sales of their art work to the Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team. The launch takes place at Teach Ban Nua Gallery, Drumcliffe this Saturday, March 7 at 2pm.

The day will also be an opportunity for the Rescue Team to introduce the public to the S/LMRT Command Vehicle and answer any questions that may arise. There will be practical demonstrations and a chance to see how any monetary donations are spent.

Sligo/Leitrim is well known for attracting artists and musicians, and quite a substantial community has grown up over the last 15 years. Fourteen nationally and internationally known artists have generously contributed work for the cause.

The Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team is one of 12 Teams throughout the 32 counties who provide a voluntary search and rescue service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They are affiliated to the Irish Mountain Rescue Association and are also an Irish Red Cross Team. There are currently 18 Team members spread throughout Sligo and Leitrim comprising of experts in wilderness first aid, communications, climbing and navigational skills. Training is an ongoing necessity for each member with weekday evenings, regular weekends and occasional week long courses being necessary to maintain their skill and knowledge base. They respond to mountain rescue incidents throughout the region in conjunction with neighbouring teams in Mayo and Donegal as well as further afield. Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team are a registered charity and need to raise a significant amount of funds every year to continue to provide their service to the community.

Participating Artists are: Sinead Aldridge, Brigit Beemster, Clive Bright, Mary Dillon, Cormac O’Leary, Tessa Marsden, Sean McSweeney, Sheila McSweeney, Nick Miller, Tom O’Rourke, Betina Seitz, Micheal Wann, Annie West and Heidi Wickham.

Cllr Jude Devins Launching Exhibition

Cllr Jude Devins Launching Exhibition