Mountain Rescue: Case Study - BEEP Doctors Cumbria - Volunteer Emergency Doctors

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Mountain Rescue: Case Study

October 30th, 2020

Daniel Oakaby, 36 from Devon was on a rock climbing and camping holiday in August 2020 with friends in the Lake District when he was involved in an accident.  Working alongside Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team and the Police, the BEEP Doctors were called to help.  Our Dr John ferris was on the scene before Dan was air lifted to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Glasgow, by Coastguard helicopter.

Dan tells us more about what happened to him and how the BEEP Doctors helped save his life…

Can you tell us a bit about what happened to you?

I was on a rock climbing holiday with three friends. Having been rock climbing all day on the Sunday, in the early evening I missed a hold and fell. Some of my cam and nuts broke out of the rock face and I fell approximately 25m, hitting rocks and ledges on the way down. My next nut and cam held and I was suspended approximately 1m above the floor by my climbing harness. I was wearing a helmet.  My climbing partner who was belaying me quickly realised I was injured and radioed our other two friends for help. One stayed with me, one ran downhill to the nearest farm in sight, and the third climbed to reach phone signal to call the emergency services. I understand the mountain rescue team attended with two doctors, and a Coastguard helicopter was brought down from near Glasgow with another doctor. The team on site transferred me approximately 30m to allow the helicopter to winch me up, which then landed in a nearby field so that the doctor could provide more medical care before being transported to the hospital.

What injuries did you have?

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I fractured my left eye socket in multiple places including underneath, with part of the bone sticking through to my eyebrow, and suffered cuts to the eye.
I fractured about 5 ribs in multiple places on my left side causing rib flail. Part of a bone grazed the outer part of my heart. I punctured both lungs, with my left lung collapsing completely.
I suffered a diffusional axonal head injury with a small amount of bleeding inside the skull and I badly fractured my left radial bone and wrist at the hinge joint.

How is your recovery going?

I’m very lucky to be making an almost full recovery, and very quickly. I had three operations: the first was rib fixation surgery to screw and plate some of my ribs to prevent the flailing sections of rib causing any further internal damage – they also assessed my lung function and decided I didn’t need any part of my lung removing; the second was to repair nerve damage around my eye and insert a plate below my left eye socket; the third was to rebuild and plate my left wrist. I’ve recovered very well from these and may not need further surgery.
I have no serious ongoing effects of the brain injury, my eyesight and eye are fine, my lungs are recovering very well, my ribs aren’t causing me any real discomfort and I’m already building mobility and strength back into my wrist. I’m already walking and cycling and increasing my overall fitness daily. I know I’m very lucky to be doing so well.

I was sedated very quickly and don’t remember anything about the accident or rescue, but the friends I was with can’t speak highly enough about the care I received. They were so impressed by the efficiency, kindness, authority and knowledge of the doctors and team which undoubtedly saved my life.

Whilst in hospital, Dr Ferris made contact with one of the registrars to enquire about my progress and he arranged to speak to my mum at length to talk through the incident with her, which was very kind. I’ve also now spoken to him, and am so grateful for both the immediate care and the concern and efforts made to check my progress. We are all so thankful to every single person involved and in awe of the entire rescue process.


Wow, what a story Dan.  We are so pleased to hear that he is making a full recovery and that as part of a great team effort our BEEP Doctor Dr Ferris could help save his life.  Your donations and fundraising ensure that the BEEP Doctors can attend incidents like this across the county and save lives.