18th May 2008

I’d written a thank you letter to the Commanding Officer at HMS Gannet. He’d been so impressed that he invited me down for the day. They don’t get many letters, which I found very surprising!! Michael couldn’t make it. His boss at the time wouldn’t let him have the time off work!! My younger son, Christopher came down with me. Most of the original crew were back at the base, so it was fantastic to meet a bunch of big-hearted, down-to-earth guys that you could ever imagine. Once again, a very overwhelming feeling to meet people who were involved in saving my life.

I was awe-struck to hear their firsthand account of the night. How they only found us through the lights of our mobile phones!! Cheers Nokia!! They were also on the last legs of their fuel supply and nearly had to leave without Michael, so it was to the MRTs credit that they were sharpish down the hill with him. What I hadn’t heard before was their journey past Crianlarich towards Loch Lomond. Most of this corridor has hills on each side, so they were reasonably protected from the high winds. At one point, however, the helicopter was hit by a tremendous gust. It knocked one of the crew into the roof, smashing his night vision goggles!! Scarily, a couple of days later, when the crew were hosing the helicopter clean, they found a 9-inch gash in the fuselage!! That gash was a testament to how strong the winds were that night.

One of the crew members, Daz, saved the best till last. As well as the A&E at the Southern General, HMS Gannet have used our rescue as a training op!! He had a power-point presentation to show us. (He’s looking it out to send to me, so I’ll be able to upload it into the blog) Lots of interesting stats, especially those from A&E….. the one that stands out the most….. Core Temperature 33 degrees!!! Which is pretty cold!!

There were a couple of photos included…. a blood-stained trolley in A&E and a cracker of the compound fracture of my right arm!!! No wonder it’s taken so long to heal….wait till you see this!!

A camera crew from Channel 5 were at the base filming for a new documentary called ‘Highland Emergency’. Bianca Barker who was filming and interviewing the crew in action asked me a few questions on camera!! I haven’t seen the interview on the TV yet, but I have missed a few episodes. She very kindly took some photos, including a few of Christopher in the cockpit. Being in the helicopter did not jolt my memory. I have no memory of the journey to the hospital whatsoever.

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