'I owe my life to the Kerry Mountain Rescue Team'
"If I was left on the mountain for much longer it would have been fatal."
Killarney man James Cahill doesn't mince his words as he reflects on a day when the Kerry Mountain Rescue Team (KMRT) airlifted him to safety following a horrendous 40ft fall on Carrantoohill last July.
Speaking to The Kerryman this week, James revealed how he sustained horrific injuries that left him paralysed on his right side. He received 100 stitches to his face and following several months of treatment at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire, he continues to recover.
James is fortunate in that his tale has a happy ending and his friends have organised a special fundraiser in aid of KMRT to say thanks for saving their pal's life.
"Basically, I owe my life to the rescue team; only for them I might not have survived," he remarks.
"The whole incident was traumatic and when I heard the helicopter, I knew this was serious. Like most people I didn't realise how important the Kerry Mountain Rescue Team is until that point in my life. They do amazing work and I'll never forget the way they kept talking and reassuring me."
It was a typical Kerry summer morning and James had been hillwalking with his friend, Cllr John Joe Culloty, when he slipped, lost control and fell 40ft over a ledge.
The pair had been descending Carrauntoohill and the accident occurred at the Zig Zags (Bothar na Gíge), above Hag's Glen when conditions turned suddenly to heavy rain and strong winds.
"Some of it is still hazy, but John Joe and I had planned the walk a few weeks in advance. The weather was reasonably good that morning as we set off but it deteriorated rapidly as we descended. We were doing our best to walk as fast as we could to get off the mountain and I simply lost my footing and slipped.
"I knew straight away that I was in serious trouble and there was a gap of three to four seconds between going over the ledge and hitting the ground.
"I roared out to John Joe and, in fairness, he knew what to do. He didn't move me and kept my head steady between his knees. He just kept talking to me trying to keep me calm," James added.
KMRT was called and members treated James at the scene, before lowering him by stretcher to Ard na Locha where he was transferred to Kerry University Hospital by Rescue 115 Coastguard helicopter.
A total of 15 KMRT personnel were involved in the call-out. It was the third serious incident on the descent route in as many months.
James said his wife, Carmel, has been a constant support and inspiration to him and he reveals how he feels incredibly lucky to have lived to tell the tale of such a frightening ordeal.
Initially he was paralysed from the shoulder down as a result of damaged vertebrae in his neck. He is still recovering from his injuries and, following many months of treatment and rehabilitation, he is making good progress.
"The recovery has been tough. I was in Tralee for a few weeks and then I had surgery at the Mater Hospital where they fused the vertebrae. My wife Carmel was unbelievable during my time in the National Recovery Hospital where I was for about five months. That was so difficult - mentally and physically - as I was very weak.
"Carmel spent the week days with me in Dublin and she would come home on Friday evenings to be with the kids, prior to returning to Dublin again. She has been incredible."
An eight-kilometre charity walk in aid of KMRT will be held on Saturday, June 10, departing from Muckross Garden Restaurant. Registration is from 10am to 11am and donations are welcome on the day. An online gofundme link has also been set up, while donations can be made to the 'Walk with James Cahill' account at AIB in Killarney: iBAN: IE AIBK 93. A/C NO: 633263372084.
They say one good turn deserves another and when Killarney man James Cahill was brought to safety by the Kerry Mountain Rescue Team (KMRT) in July 2016, after sustaining horrific injuries in a horiffic 40ft fall on Carrantoohill, his friends decided to organise a special fundraiser in aid of the team who saved his life.
James' tale has a happy ending but it begins on a day of poor weather conditions high on the slopes of Carrauntoohil.
"Basically, I owe my life to the rescue team - only for them, I might not have survived," James reveals.
"I was suffering from hypothermia at the time. I couldn't say enough about the rescue team and the helicopter crew."
James' wife, Carmel, has been a constant source of help and inspiration and he says he feels incredibly lucky to have lived to tell the tale of his frightening ordeal.
James had been hillwalking with his friend, Cllr John Joe Culloty, on the morning of Sunday, July 10, when he slipped, lost control and fell 40ft over a ledge. He sustained extensive injuries to his face, which required 100 stitches, and the right side of his body. The pair had been descending Carrauntoohill and the accident occurred at the Zig Zags (Bothar na Gíge), above Hag's Glen.
Conditions on the mountain that day were extremely poor with heavy rain and strong winds.
After treating James at the scene, KMRT members lowered him by stretcher to Ard na Locha from where he was transferred to Kerry University Hospital by Rescue 115 Coastguard helicopter. A total of 15 KMRT personnel were involved in the call-out and it was the third serious incident on the descent route in as many months.
James, from Ballycasheen, is still recovering from his injuries and initially he was paralysed from the shoulder down as a result of damaged vertebrae in his neck. Following long months of medical treatment and difficult rehabilitation, he is making good progress and walking again with assistance.
''I'm walking with difficulty and the challenge is to improve on that." the determined Killarney man states.
"I must start learning to do everything again. I'm doing physical and occupational therapy and hydrotherapy. My aim is to get back as close as possible to where I was before the accident."
An 8km charity walk will be held on Saturday, June 10, departing from Muckross Garden Restaurant, Killarney.
Registration for the walk is from 10am-11am and donations will be welcomed on the day.
An online gofundme link has been set up, while donations can be made to the designated 'Walk with James Cahill' account set up in AIB in Killarney: iBAN: IE AIBK 93. A/C NO: 633263372084.