Northern Ireland

Mourne mountains: Student from Royal School, Dungannon, suffers hypothermia in expedition

Mourne Rescue Image copyright Mourne Mountain Rescue Team
Image caption The teenager who lost consciousness was carried from the mountain on a stretcher

A Dungannon schoolgirl suffered severe hypothermia and lost consciousness during a Duke of Edinburgh expedition in the Mourne mountains in County Down.

Several members of her group suffered from mild hypothermia after conditions deteriorated near Slieve Beg on Monday.

The team was made up of 11 students from two Dungannon schools, the Royal and St Patrick's Academy.

The girl who became ill on the mountain was from the Royal School.

Members of her group contacted the emergency services and the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team was called to the scene at about 19:15 BST.

Martin McMullan from the rescue service said all 11 group members, aged 16 and 17, were quickly found and treated.

He said they were "all doing well" and the girl who suffered severe hypothermia has now returned home.

The rescue team doctor and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service were involved in the rescue.


Mr McMullan said the teenagers' quick thinking and help for each other prevented a more serious situation.

"When you're in the mountains, the conditions are a part of it [and] you're working a little bit harder, you're carrying a rucksack on your back," he said.

"There are a lot of different factors that do take their toll on individuals.

"The one thing about these guys last night is they did a phenomenal job looking after each other.

"If they hadn't behaved in the way they did in terms of getting their entire group into shelter and calling for help, the situation could have been much, much worse."

Twenty-three rescuers took part in the operation that ended at 01:10 BST.

"It was a reasonably inaccessible location so we did have a big response last night," Mr McMullan said.

"When you get to the stage where you may have to stretcher someone out of the mountain, that requires 12 people in itself."

Students commended

Dr David Burnett, principal of Royal School Dungannon, said the young people had done a "brilliant job" when they realised one of the party was in distress.

"Seven of the group were able to walk down the mountain with a guide," he said.

"The others stayed behind with the girl who had fallen ill."

"They weren't casualties but stayed behind with her in the tent until help arrived. The pupil who took ill was stretchered down, and then checked by paramedics.

"She did not need hospital treatment, but was reunited with her mother who subsequently took her home."

"Having spoken to her family this morning, she is doing well and making a good recovery at home."

Dr Burnett also said that the other ten pupils in the group had returned to the Mournes on Tuesday morning to complete their expedition, which is due to finish later.

Two other joint groups from the schools also spent the night in the Mournes and were unaware of the incident involving their fellow pupils.

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