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Video: Irish emergency controller nominated for award over Greenland rescue

A stranded Irishman called home for assistance when injured and stranded in a remote area of Greenland.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Göran Ingman via Creative Commons

AN EMERGENCY CONTROLLER with the HSE in Dublin has been nominated for an EU award for his part in securing the rescue of an injured Irishman stranded in Greenland.

Will Carolan was on duty at the HSE control centre in Dublin city when an emergency call came in on 5 May 2011 from a distressed man who would not give the emergency address, saying this was a “special problem”.

It transpired that the man, Conor Kavanagh, had just been contacted by his son Ronan who was on a hiking expedition in Greenland and had developed serious foot injuries, which left him stranded in subzero temperatures in a remote area.

Unable to reach local authorities by satellite phone, the mountaineer contacted his parents back home in Ireland to see if they could arrange some assistance.
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(Video uploaded by HSEIreland)

Carolan said that Conor Kavanagh was very distraught over his son’s situation, but that he was able to provide information about Ronan’s trip and his condition.

“I explained to the caller that I would see what I could do and I would phone him back shortly. Normal protocol had been abandoned for now,” he said in a post for the HSE. “Thinking of what I would do if this situation was in Ireland, I immediately thought of the Coast Guard.”

Carolan contacted the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Dublin and asked if they knew of any counterparts in Greenland, Denmark or other adjacent country who could provide assistance to the stranded Irishman.

“I then made sure I contacted the caller to let him know what was happening,” he said. “It quickly became apparent from speaking to him that he felt relieved that something was at last happening – even though we didn’t know what the outcome of all our efforts would be, be it a rescue or not.”

After clocking off at 11pm that night, Carolan was on his way home when he was contacted by the MRCC and informed that a rescue operation was underway.

Kavanagh was subsequently rescued by helicopter and admitted to hospital for treatment. He has since returned to Ireland.

“It wasn’t a usual run-of-the-mill call,” Carolan said. “It just goes to show that you don’t know what you’re going to be faced with next.”

The winner of the Outstanding Call Taker award for which Carolan has been nominated will be announced tonight at the EU Emergency Services Workshop in Latvia.

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