Coastguard and RAF rescue ill fisherman 230 miles off Lewis

The coastguard worked with the RAF to reach the Spanish fisherman 230 miles off the Isle of Lewis. Picture: John Devlin

The coastguard worked with the RAF to reach the Spanish fisherman 230 miles off the Isle of Lewis. Picture: John Devlin

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The coastguard and RAF carried out a “life-or-death” rescue operation after a fisherman fell ill 230 miles off shore.

The UK Coastguard helicopter based at Stornoway was sent on the long-range mission, with an Hercules C-130 aircraft from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire providing assistance.

The crew on the ship contacted the Spanish coastguard service after the emergency and, as the vessel was 230 miles north-west of the Isle of Lewis, the UK Coastguard was called in at about 8.30pm on October 8.

The boat was out of range for the rescue helicopter and its crew were instructed to get closer to Lewis.

The extra support of the RAF’s Hercules C-130 was required as the distance from shore was too far for the helicopter to safely reach alone in difficult weather conditions.

A translator was also required to help as the crew on the fishing boat did not speak English.

• READ MORE: Man rescued after major search on Isle of Lewis loch

The coastguard were able to winch the injured man on to their helicopter and he was flown back to Inverness, where he was met by an ambulance which took him to Raigmore Hospital for treatment.

UK Coastguard commander Mark Rodaway said: “This is a superb example of international co-operation and we would like to thank all those who have played their part in bringing this rescue to a textbook conclusion.”

Peter Wood, a winchman paramedic on the UK Coastguard helicopter, highlighted the importance of the RAF’s co-operation, saying: “They provided vital communications assistance between the vessel and a watchful eye over our helicopter at that great distance.

“Just as importantly, they made sure the vessel had adjusted its course to prepare for the winching which saved us valuable time.

“When you’re at this range in a life-and-death situation such as this one, every minute counts, so to know that the military had our backs if we got into trouble was a huge relief.”

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