Tobermory’s lifeboat, Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey – a Severn Class, the largest the RNLI operate - launched just before 22.00 last night, 21st June and the Summer Solstice.
She had been asked by Stornoway Coastguard to go to the aid of aa diver with suspected decompression sickness – ‘the bends’ – on the Isle of Muck in the south of the Small Isles, 14 miles north of Tobermory.
The diver, a man in his 40s, was successfully transferred to the lifeboat, where he received casualty care from the volunteer crew.
He was then taken to Oban where he was handed over to the Scottish Ambulance Service shortly after midnight.
The lifeboat returned to Tobermory and was made ready for service shortly after 02.00 this morning, having travelled more than 80 miles in the course of the ‘shout’.
Tobermory RNLI Coxswain Andrew McHaffie says: ‘This was a routine shout which required the crew to use their casualty care training. This is something which we regularly practise and indeed our last training session earlier this week involved the crew dealing with a multiple casualty scenario on a local whale watching boat.
‘We are fortunate in that many of the crew have received world class casualty care training through the RNLI College and we were able to use this training to good effect tonight.’
The RNLI’s casualty care training Andrew McHaffie was talking about is unique.
Instead of a traditional first aid syllabus based on diagnosis, the check card based system is based on what the crew member sees and therefore knows – a symptom based approach.
The course meets all the necessary criteria approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and is recognised by the College of Paramedics, the Anaesthetic, Trauma and Critical Care Group and the Royal College of Surgeons.
The photograph, top, showing the Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey on exercise, is by Dr Sam Jones, member of the Tobermory lifeboat’s volunteer crew. Of the Argyll lifeboats, three are Severn Class boats, all stationed in places where they expect to deal with tough sea conditions. The other two are the Islay lifeboat, Helmut Schroder of Dunlossit II; and the Campbeltown lifeboat, Ernest and Mary Shaw.
Earlier this year, on 27th January, the Tobermory lifeboat crew fought for eleven hours in heavy seas out in the Atlantic, seven miles west of the Isle of Coll, to rescue a fishing boat adrift with a broken gear box.
And a week ago, over 14th and 15th June, she did her longest ever service – 31 hours – with the cargo ship, Fri Ocean, which ran heavily aground on Mull, south of Tobermory, in the small hours of 14th June. Fri Ocean then had the Toberm0ry Lifeboat in close attendance from shortly after reporting her situation to Stornoway coastguard at 06.00, to her refloating around 12 hours later and a passage through the sound of Mull, with a few hours at anchor off Salen to wait for the light to proceed to Oban Bay. Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey took a stern line from the damaged cargo boat off the entrance to Oban Bay, ready to act as a restraint in the delicate manoeuvre to get her safely anchored off Kerrera - before returning to Tobermory, 31 hours after she had launched the day before.
Yesterday, 21st June, Fri Ocean made a passage up Loch Linnhe to Fort William where she is now anchored off Corpach. We understand she has unloaded her timber cargo there, for onward shipping to Sweden by another boat, pending repairs to her own hull after the grounding. A reader has just commented that they got her deck cargo of logs off yesterday and are getting the hold cargo of wood chip off today.