Man plunges 30ft down ravine near Durham

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A MAN who fell 30ft down a ravine had to be airlifted to hospital suffering from suspected spinal injuries this evening.

Station manager Jonathan Smith, of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue, co-ordinated the rescue effort.

The injured man had spent around two hours at the bottom of the ravine near Belmont and had been ‘very lucky’ to be spotted before dark, he said.

“At 5.15pm, we received a 999 call from a farmer who had seen a middle-aged man at the foot of the ravine,” he said.

The man had apparently fallen from a walkway alongside the ravine, down the bank and into a stream. He had managed to get himself out of the water but was unable to climb back up the bank.

Fire crews used specialist Working at Height equipment to reach the man and found he was conscious but complaining of suspected spinal injuries and pain in his ankle.

“Using the specialist equipment we set up a system and were able to get him out on a stretcher,” said Station Manager Smith. “We lifted him onto the safety of the walkway, about 30ft up.”

It then became clear getting the victim to hospital would not be easy.

“The field was extremely bumpy and the ambulance crew raised the concern that driving him across it might aggravate his spine further, so it was decided to speak to the police and get their air support.

“They came at about 6.30 or quarter to seven and, because of the spinal injuries, decided to take him to Durham.”

The man, who was not from the area, had apparently fallen while out for a walk.

“Sometimes people go out without telling family and friends where they are going or what time they will be back and they don’t take a mobile phone with them,” said Station Manager Smith.

“If you are going for a walk, if you could just let people know where you’re going, you could perhaps save yourself a lot of trouble.”