Fortunately rescuers were able to contact the missing runner using his mobile phone. He was training for the Art O’Neill Challenge, a commemorative 55km overnight run through the Wicklow Mountains which takes place next Friday and had lost his GPS unit along the way. He was now in an extremely remote location and unsure of his exact position or which way he should go next. Using software developed by Mountain Rescue the man was sent a link by text message which opened up a mobile app on his smartphone. This app quickly determined his location and sent the coordinates to a computer displaying an Ordnance Survey map of Wicklow. Using this information the rescuers were able to establish his location with an accuracy of 100m and were able to start planning his rescue.
Both teams have developed an excellent relationship with the ESB and are regularly allowed access to the pumped storage facility at Turlough Hill for training purposes. In this case, the road to the upper reservoir was the nearest vehicular access point to the man’s location and rescue base was established at that location. Two hill parties of rescuers set out across the hills carrying warm clothing and first aid equipment. As the man’s location was now known they were able to make good progress without having to spread out in a search formation. Searching for a person in the dark over rough ground is physically strenuous and slow work so in this case the Mountain Rescue location software was of significant benefit. Brian O’Doherty, PRO for Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue noted that “Even though we were able to find this man quickly, it was dependent on him having the right phone and very good 3G coverage. It doesn’t always work and there is still a need for people who go out on the hills to have and know how to use navigation equipment such as a map and compass.”
Once the man was reached by the volunteers, he was given warm clothing, quickly assessed for any potential medical issues and brought to safety. Team members were stood down at approximately 21:00 after their second call-out today and their third this year so far.
Picture Credit: Brian O’Doherty, Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue