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Watch as Stonehaven Coastguard help rescue walker ‘a finger’s grip away from certain death’

Coastguard teams from Arbroath, Dundee and Stonehaven were involved in the rescue of the injured man at Arbroath cliffs. Image: Wallace Ferrier

An injured man who was “a finger’s grip away from certain death” sparked a major emergency response after being rescued from a cliff at Seaton.

Emergency response units rushed to the scene in Arbroath just before 5pm on Sunday, January 23 after a man fell from a cliff.

A total of three coastguard teams from Dundee, Arbroath and Stonehaven, two lifeboat crews, a rescue helicopter, police and paramedics responded to the emergency.

The man was on a walk when he fell 10 metres from the top of the cliff. His companion called 999 whilst the man clung precariously to the cliff face and was slowly slipping.

Emergency Services alerted

Police Scotland received a call at 4.50pm that a man was stuck on Arbroath Cliffs.

A few minutes later, coastguards received the alarm concerning the casualty. A coastguard spokesperson said teams from from Arbroath, Dundee and Stonehaven were then dispatched to the scene.

Coastguard rescue teams at Arbroath cliffs on Sunday. Image: Wallace Ferrier.

They added: “Two RNLI crews manning both the all-weather vessel and the inshore craft were deployed from Arbroath station.

“A Scottish coastguard helicopter also assisted in the search for the individual.”

Holding on for nearly two hours

Arbroath RNLI posted on social media after the rescue calling the incident a “tricky cliff rescue.”

They said: “The casualty had become crag fast in a precarious position near the top of a cliff at Dickmonts Den.

“Thought to have been holding on for nearly two hours in dark, cold and windy conditions, the casualty was struggling to keep their grip on the cliff.”

The Coastguard helicopter – Rescue 151 – was also called in to help but teams were worried that the down draft from the aircraft would be too much for the casualty.

In the end the helicopter rescue was deemed “too dangerous” as it could have dislodged the man from his position on the cliff face. Coastguard teams instead set up a technical rope rescue over the cliff edge.

Arbroath RNLI said: “The Coastguard team committed a technician over the cliff edge and successfully secured the casualty and extracted them to safe ground at the cliff top.

“The casualty was taken by ambulance to hospital as a precaution.”

The man was taken to Ninewells Hospital for treatment. It is understood that his injuries are not life-threatening.

‘A close call’

HM Coastguard said the rescue was a race against time.

After two hours trying to hold onto the cliff in windy, winter weather, the man was cold and tired.

They said he was in a dangerous position and “a finger’s grip away from plunging to almost certain death.”

Senior coastal operations officer, David Kerr said: “It was a close call – he was struggling to hold on, and it was a long way to fall. The teams knew they had to get to him and quickly. It was a tough rope rescue in darkness on a steep and crumbling cliff.

“It goes to show how quickly a nice winter walk can turn sour, one decision and suddenly the man found himself gripping on for life. It really can happen that easily and to anyone.”

He said that the casualty and his companion were well prepared, wearing the right winter gear and having mobile phones that were fully charged. Calling the emergency services in their situation was the best thing they could do.

Mr Kerr added: “The cliffs in that area are particularly loose and it can be very easy to end up in a difficult situation. So we do ask people to stay well back, the cliffs around the UK are continually eroding and can become unsteady at any time.”

The HM Coastguard encourage the public to familarise themselves with safety advice offered and always be aware of your surroundings.

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