Teenager rescued after falling ill during school water activity trip
By RYAN TAYLOR
A teenage girl was rescued after losing consciousness while swimming in the sea off Nesting during a school activity trip.
Second year Anderson High School pupil Holly Leask was taking part in a group activity off the coast at Kirkabister when she started suffering from the extreme cold shortly after 1pm on Wednesday afternoon.
The 14-year-old was with a group of over 20 youngsters who were taking part in an activity known as “coasteering” – climbing along low-level rocks and jumping into the sea before exploring sea caves – when she began to feel unwell.
The annual activity week offers youngsters a three-day window of opportunity to unwind after the stress of exams, and has been running in Shetland schools for the last five years.
Holly became unconscious in the water before being helped to the shore by her instructor.
School friend Frankie Sandison said Holly had been complaining of feeling “cold and dizzy” before taking ill in the water.
The Sumburgh-based Coastguard search and rescue helicopter was scrambled and was on the scene within 21 minutes.
It landed with Holly at Clickimin, and she was taken to the Gilbert Bain Hospital for treatment before later being discharged.
Holly’s mother Shona, who lives with her daughter in the town’s Bruce Crescent, said she heard the helicopter flying overhead as school staff were phoning her to tell her of the incident.
“She was unconscious for 10 to 15 minutes. She was unconscious when she was in the water,” she said. “I was talking to one of the instructors, and he said they had to go up the banks with her to phone for Oscar Charlie. I heard it going overhead when the head teacher was on the phone to me.
“They go on three days of outdoors activities when their exams are finished.”
Holly’s mother rushed to the hospital where Holly was being kept wrapped up. “She was rattling and couldn’t speak,” she said.
However, after being cared for by hospital staff she was able to sit up and eat a sandwich. She was allowed home later in the afternoon.
Holly’s instructor was quick to get her to safety and call for help on his mobile phone, but her mother said the “real hero” was Holly’s class-mate Celine Hunter who went with her in the helicopter.
“Holly has got hearing problems and when they were trying to offer Celine ear protectors in the helicopter she said that Holly had to get them instead.
“Then when I got to the hospital Celine was standing by Holly’s side, still in her wet suit.”
Her mother is eager to find out how she could have suffered from the cold, especially when she had eaten well during the day and was adequately equipped with a wet suit, safety equipment and buoyancy aids.
SIC’s sports and leisures services manager Neil Watt said he was satisfied the right procedure had been followed during the event.
“The group had all the necessary safety equipment and we’re happy that the instructors involved followed procedures.
“Our advice is if there are concerns for group members they should get medical assistance as soon as possible, and in this case they certainly did that.”
Despite the mishap, Holly was not daunted by the prospect of adventure seeking in the future, and on her return home from hospital was already planning to go for a trip on the Dunter the following day.