On behalf of myself and Polly I would like to thank all the emergency services on Tiree that attended the call out to Salum last Monday. After 10 years on the mainland as a Mountain Rescue team member it is a humbling experience to be on the receiving end for once.
The care and commitment of the various services involved could not be bettered. It just felt a bit strange meeting neighbours and friends lying prone in such worrying circumstances. However the end result was not as serious as had been initially thought. Thankfully I do not have any neck or spinal injuries. I do now however have a fractured tibia and a resin braced leg cast as a reminder of the day. The circumstances that led to my injury and airlift could have been avoided in hindsight, so to put the record and rumours straight this is what happened.
I had just re-launched the 8m kite for a second session kitesurfing at Salum. As it rose to the zenith I noticed that kite was not fully locked in on my harness. I pulled in the steering bar to sort it out. A strong gust hit at the same time and I was lofted about 3m above the beach, a lot more than I expected, but it was still manageable. My right hand then slipped off the bar. This was the worst thing I could do and caused the kite to fly in tight circles developing maximum lift and power hurtling me up the beach. Even as I released the bar, I realised I was too high and travelling fast up the beach. Releasing the bar de-powers the kite. However this then allowed me to fall and crash to the soft sand.
My mistake was that I should have simply released the safety when I first spotted the problem, but in my hurry to get back on the water I took a short cut and paid the price. As I lay on the beach I realised that my right knee was damaged, but more worrying my left hand side was numb with pins and needles. I thought I had a neck or back injury. As I was still conscious I asked my friends to immobilise me and call the emergency services. This they did brilliantly and also tried to shield me from the blown sand while we waited for help to arrive. I was rapidly descending into shock and possibly hypothermia with the cool wind blowing on my face and wetsuit. I’m still not sure who it was that arrived first but in no time Doctor Todd and the teams had me in a neck brace strapped rigid in a stretcher to protect my neck and back. I do remember someone cutting off my nice new wetsuit before meeting the crew from the Rescue 177 Sea King helicopter that flies from HMS Gannet, Preswick.
So, I now I feel a real sense of guilt at causing so much work and wasting so much money in using the emergency services. However, someone said to me after the rescue regarding Rescue 177 – we must use it or lose it. All the essential services we are privileged to have on Tiree seem to be threatened by cut-backs and austerity measures. It is only when you are a customer of such services that you really appreciate what a fantastic resource of help and care we have. Thank you all for your kind thoughts and comments. But before anyone asks. Yes, I will be back on the water as soon as I can.