of you will be aware of the accident and subsequent mountain rescue
that took place on Sunday morning. It is probably the most serious
incident on an MM to date. Rob Latimer wrote about the incident
and agreed that we should publish it on this site. I'm sure it
will make many of us feel quite unsettled as we read Rob's piece
below, but I think this article is really important on a number
of levels and we are indebted to Rob (and Martin) for spending
the time writing it and agreeing that it be made publicly available.
Heartwarming Outcome and Great Fundraising for Arrochar Mountain
mid-October 2010 I received an email from Malcolm Machlachlan
of Arrochar Mountain Rescue Team, who advised me that there had
been a number of very positive outcomes to Martin and Rob's serious
accident the previous June at the LAMM.
gorge where the accident took place was not a familiar place to
members of the Arrochar team and the team has rarely been called
out to rescue folk in Upper Glen Fyne. By complete coincidence,
they were called out to locate and rescue a missing lone walker
in the same area only a week after Martin & Rob's accident.
Malcolm told me that the team's experiences the weekend before
prompted them to send one of the team to check out the bottom
of the gorges. To their amazement, the missing walker was found
lying in the same stream, within 20 metres or so of Martin Potter.
He was also suffering from serious injuries sustained in a fall
from a similar spot on the ridge above. It was now 24 hours since
the accident and Malcolm feels that their newly found knowledge
of the area and Martin's accident a week earlier had saved a life.
the serious injuries Martin Potter sustained when he fell into
the gorge and almost a month in hospital, he made a very good
recovery and by mid-September was back at work full time. He had
his first "jog" since the accident on 23rd October.
Rob didn't have an easy time after the accident as skin grafts
to his shin failed to take and although it took some months for
his wounds to heal, all is well now.
Martin is a partner at Hymans-Robertson, a large company of Insurance
Consultants. His work colleagues there were very interested in
his rescue by Arrochar MRT and recovery in hospital. When they
heard that the rescue team were trying to raise funds for a new
Land Rover, they started their own fund
raising, asking their clients for donations, prizes for the raffle
etc. This included a box for 15 at the O2 arena, a weekend at
Cameron house and many other great prizes. They managed to raise
the incredible sum of £10,000 and in late September
Martin Potter and his colleagues handed over a very big cheque
to members of the Arrochar team at a their
new offices in Edinburgh.
said "This is a great story and means a lot to us to see
the marvellous recovery he has made from the condition team members
found him in and then also to have our efforts so generously recognised
by his colleagues and company directors was very encouraging.
The donation will allow us to fit out our new vehicle with the
extra fittings and equipment needed to turn a standard vehicle
into an ambulance for our purposes (roof rack, radio and comms
Aerials and battery fittings, lights, equipment storage, body
markings, etc). The timing of which could not be better as we
have just managed to secure a suitable new vehicle from a dealer
in Stirling. We also have to thank Tuggy Delap of Fyne Ales and
all the LAMMers this year for helping us raise another £2,200
to achieve our aim. I don't know if you caught sight of our
own efforts in staging a cycle event from Lands End to John O'
Groats which was completed in 56 hours and 40 minutes by our 9
riders within the target time of 60 hours and raised another £7,000
in donations towards the new Landrover".
& Martin's Article - June 2010
LAMMers who were aware of the rescue helicopter coming in on Sunday
morning I hope this will go some way to putting your minds at
rest, and for those who were not aware of it, I hope it proves
interesting and informative; both what not to do and I hope in
part what to do if the unthinkable happens.
The main headline is that we'll both be ok. I think it's important
to say that up front.
were placed C6 overnight which we were more than happy with. Mid
camp was the usual mix of soreness and anticipation, time enough
to relax and chat amongst the teams.
navigation continued to hold up in Sunday's reduced visibility
and we only paused for a minute occasionally when we rather hopefully
thought we'd gone further than we had (first signs of tired minds
creeping in?). Chasing starts certainly make the racing interesting
and despite some good running first thing we knew we had C8 and
C10 right with us by the mid part of the course. The top section
of the decent from Beinn Bhuidhe was superb, a track which we
were able to run fairly fast and get ahead of C10 at least, not
sure where C8 were at that stage. Then the errors...
again we placed ourselves ahead of our true position, having crossed
only a small 'plateau' rather than the larger one between Beinn
Buidhe and Newton Hill, then on bearing slightly east we hit the
southernmost tributary of the burn down towards Inverchorachan.
First lesson: if it feels wrong, do bother to check - a glance
at the compass would have told me we should hold south. We thought
we were on the next burn to the south and we'd only follow it
for a few hundred metres, then heading for the larger gap in the
crags en route to Newton Hill.
found ourselves looking down a steep, craggy gully with a narrow
line of wet scree near the top. Martin was at the top of the scree
when I took my first look down. It was obviously not an easy route
and in hesitating I said that he should avoid the scree, maybe
look to go left of it where it seemed the grassed and stepped
slope might be more passable. Now when I think about it, we should
have backtracked and, perhaps given time to think, we would have
(Second lesson: only experience will teach you where your limits
are but be very careful pushing them, it only takes a fraction
of a second). As Martin tried to get off the scree, heading across
to the left (it was maybe two steps to cross it and find 'safe'
ground), it all went away from under him, no time to scrabble
for better purchase, he simply slid away. All I recall is that
he was sliding feet first until the first drop, taking the first
hit on his feet he then 'rag-dolled' and more than likely blacked
out. Whether it was two or three drops I'm not sure; between each
I thought he might stop but his momentum kept him moving and dropping
again. He landed the bigger drops on his right side and at some
point struck his head. His rucksack shoulder straps had come off,
as had one shoe. He finally came to a rest in the burn (face up)
some 20m below his initial slip. I stared. I shouted. I blew my
whistle six times but didn't wait for a reply. I started down,
at the time not really thinking about going around, it would have
taken time, maybe several minutes to get to him (a bit of a moot
point in this instance but a good general rule, Third lesson:
don't make yourself a casualty too - you'll be no good to anyone
then!). I managed to avoid the scree and get down part of the
way, then I too slid on the steep, wet ground. Momentary panic:
"if I end up lying next to him we're screwed...". Luckily,
having fallen and smashed my left leg into the rock, I didn't
have the same momentum and stopped above a further drop. Scrambling
down to him I kept asking for a response and kept saying that
I was ok (perhaps more for my benefit than his). I don't remember
my fall really but it was enough to rip my rucksack's hipbelt
off, take my thumb compass and my watch. Apparently my clothes
have holes in but I've not looked yet...
was conscious when I reached him and was able to moan saying,
"Ow" repeatedly. Right, don't move a casualty, but he's
in a stream, ok, so move him. I placed the tent ground sheet to
the side of the stream and managed to lift him towards it. He
helped but then realised how bad his arm was and was complaining
about his elbow. Great, hold that thought, rather than concentrating
on the hole in his head. I pulled on my jacket and a hat so I
could keep working, then I got him covered with the fly sheet,
pulled a survival bag on as far up his legs as possible. His jacket
was on so I added his fleece (leaving the bad arm inside it when
it became obvious he wasn't able to lift it). I went through his
bag for first aid but couldn't see it. Fourth lesson: make sure
you know exactly where the first aid kit is. I was getting cold
hands and starting to wonder if it had fallen out, as some things
clearly had. I had his hat and a pair of my tracksters; that'll
do. I bound his head wound with the ronhills best I could, pulled
his hat over the top and left my water bottle and a powerbar next
to him (his water was missing somewhere on the hill). I put his
whistle in his hand and said remember to blow it, just keep doing
it; it would give him something to do, but being by a waterfall
might not be that effective.
make sure I knew the exact location I decided to go down the burn
and this would also give me the easiest terrain to run for help
once I got into Glen Fyne. The alternative would have been to
get back on the course and I may have found someone sooner. Whether
we'd have got help sooner I wasn't so sure, it was more important
to get help to the right place. I found my watch and it was still
working. So, altitude check; 605m. I knew the weather had affected
it so bear that in mind for later; time check 1035, "Martin
mate, I'm going for help" thinking there's nothing else I
can do for you, "I promise I'll get someone, hang in there...".
I just used some tape on my leg, nice and tight, at least that'll
keep it together.
reckon the whole thing only took 10 minutes from his slip to me
leaving, so around 1030 and at 605m plus/minus adjustment. It
was pretty tricky getting down to the glen but there's a track
down the main tributary and once I was on that it became easier.
In the glen I could see a team but too far away to get their attention.
Then I met with a team who had already retired from the race,
"you'll be quicker," they said, fair enough, it hurts
like hell but I guess they may be right. Altitude check, Inverchorachan
- 110m, mine said 180m so take 70m off the 605m, that'll be 535m,
ok "535m at 1030", repeat constantly until you can't
possibly get it wrong (and it took my mind of my leg). Then I
met a couple of guys who had bikes, perfect, you couldn't do me
a favour could you, sorry to trouble you, we're in a wee bit of
bother etc. etc. No problem, they were off to the event base.
kept up a reasonable run/walk routine until I got past Glen Fyne
Lodge where I met a car, not mountain rescue but a chap who lives
up there, did I want a lift? Well, I thought not to start with,
after all the bikes would get there soon and send the team back
up to meet me, but he really didn't seem to mind and it made sense
to be absolutely sure the message got through, so yeah ok, thanks.
He dropped me off just as the two rescue teams were leaving the
event centre. I stopped them and gave the best description I could,
then it was over to the professionals.
They really are professional, such a good crowd, while the hill
teams were off in a blast of 'blues and twos' I was looked after
and calmed, kept warm, and as best they were able, informed of
progress. They'll get him soon, HMS Gannet is on the way, don't
worry you've done all you can...
We waited and they made sure I wasn't panicking any relatives,
finally - helicopter's with him, he's on the winch, he's away,
now make that call. Our wives are good friends so once I'd called
Michelle she went round to see Martin's wife Amanda and tell her
face to face, "he's being airlifted to hospital, he'll be
had a broken left ankle, badly cut knee, fractured pelvis, 5 broken
ribs on his right side and a punctured lung, 3 broken ribs on
the left, broken right elbow, dislocated and broken shoulder,
predominantly severed ear, cut face and head, fractured skull,
minor cuts and grazes on all limbs and hands.
got away with one major laceration below my left knee two small
punctures in my right shin, and a collection of cuts, grazes and
bruises including a very swollen knee; no break or ligament damage
has already had 3 hours of surgery but is now out of the High
Dependancy Unit. He should make a full recovery. I have had the
wound surgically cleaned and have to go back into theatre next
week for a skin graft as there wasn't enough viable skin to close
very much of it.
Thank you to Martin Stone and LAMM and Arrochar Mountain Rescue
Team. I guess this is a cautionary tale but let's take some positives
from it; we all know the risks and sometimes accidents happen.
Please keep it in perspective and just be prepared, know your
limits (and occasionally push them) and let's all keep enjoying
these incredible, inspiring, challenging places.
Latimer & Martin Potter