Cliff rescue chaos

A 16-YEAR-OLD boy who was stuck holding on to the side of a cliff for more than an hour was put on hold after dialling 999 for help. Terry Price, of Grasmere Drive, was clinging to the cliff at Uphill after he watched his 18-year-old friend, Roy Willia

A 16-YEAR-OLD boy who was stuck holding onto the side of a cliff for more than an hour was put on hold after dialling 999 for help.

Terry Price, of Grasmere Drive, was left clinging to a cliff in Uphill after he watched his 18-year-old friend, Roy Williams, fall 40ft to the ground. Too scared to climb down in case he fell too, he called for help using his mobile phone.

But the youngster says he was put through to officers in both South Wales and Nottingham before he spoke to anyone at Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

Then, when emergency services arrived, paramedics were unable to take Roy straight to hospital because eight fire engines had blocked the entrance to Uphill Quarry.

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Duncan Massey, a volunteer with Avon and Somerset Search and Rescue team, was called to the scene and says access problems are a common occurrence.

He said: “What should have been a five minute journey to hospital turned out to be a 15-minute wait before the ambulance could get on the road.

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“Phil Ruffel, who was the clinical team leader at the scene, came up to me and told me the ambulance couldn’t get out because it was blocked in. It is ridiculous but it is a regular occurrence.”

The drama unfolded as Terry, a student at Weston College, and Roy, who also lives in Grasmere Drive, clambered up the Uphill cliff face without taking any safety precautions. A rock Roy was holding crumbled and he fell to the ground.

After dialling 999, Terry said it felt like ages’ until he was finally put through to the right police service.

He said: “It was half an hour before I was put through to the right person and then another hour until they arrived. I was scared because I had seen my mate fall and I knew he was hurt.

“I won’t be climbing up there without a rope again. I want to thank all those who helped us.”

Roy was lucky to escape with facial injuries, a fractured thumb and a broken tooth.

Jason Mann, communications officer at BT, said: “When we get a 999 call from a mobile phone, the operator can see which mobile mast the call came through and identifies which area’s emergency department they should put the caller through to.

“Unfortunately what appears to have happened in this case is that the young man’s mobile phone signal was picked up by a mast in South Wales instead of one in Somerset, which can occasionally happen if a mast in a specific area is down. So the operator put him through to the police department in the South Wales area.”

Assistant chief fire officer John Dando said: “I think it’s worth praising the professionalism of our crews, most notably our rope rescue team, which did an excellent job to rescue a young boy who was in enormous danger.

“This was a situation that could have had a potentially tragic outcome but for the professional work of Great Western Ambulance Service and Avon Fire & Rescue Service.

“Avon Fire & Rescue Service and Great Western Ambulance Service work together on a daily basis and have a professional and effective working relationship, which was evident during this incident.”

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