Belfast Telegraph

Aisling (and Facebook) to the rescue of injured tourist as phone signal fails on Belfast's Divis Mountain

By Chris McCullough

A jogger has told how she used Facebook to help rescue an American tourist she found injured on Divis Mountain above Belfast.

Aisling Costello from Lisburn was out running on Saturday morning when she found the woman - who is originally from Jordan but now living in the US - lying beside a path just after 10.30am.

The woman was in a distressed state and in pain, and neither she nor her male friend could get any signal on their mobile phones. Aisling ran over to offer help but could not get a mobile signal either.

Luckily, however, she was able to get a 3G data signal.

"The man went to find more help as none of us could get a signal," said the operations manager and mum of one.

"I tried a number of times to call 999, but each time the phone said the signal was disconnected.

"However, I did notice that my Facebook was live so I posted a message on there looking for help.

"As luck would have it, my friend Aveen saw my post and called the emergency services."

Aveen called the Coastguard on 999, who relayed the message to the police and Ambulance Service, who then took over the rescue.

"The woman was getting even more stressed so I, along with another lady called Joanne, did our best to calm her down," explained Aisling.

"A woman from the Coastguard also got involved in the Facebook conversation and issued us with some instructions to help the lady and told us not to move her.

"We noticed the police helicopter in the air but it could not land, as visibility was too poor.

However, soon after that an ambulance crew arrived up the track at 11.30am along with the lady's friend in his car.

"It really was a dramatic event for a Saturday morning, but I am so glad the lady was rescued," added Aisling.

"The last I heard from the hospital is that she has a suspected broken leg.

"I go running up the mountain about twice a month, but this is the first time I have found anyone in distress."

Aisling was surprised she couldn't make a mobile phone call, as there are some masts nearby.

She uses an O2 phone and contacted the service provider to find out why she could not call 999 despite having an internet signal.

She said: "It seemed strange to me that I could post on Facebook yet I could not make any calls. I wanted to find out, so I called O2 myself.

"They basically told me that it was because I was above the mast and on a mountainside that I had no phone signal.

"They told me the mast signals do not point upwards, hence I had no connection."

Ian Graham from the Coastguard in Bangor said: "When we received the call we alerted both the ambulance and police services, who then took over the rescue.

"It seems the woman who found the injured party could not get any phone signal, but was able to connect to her Facebook page and posted a message there.

"One of her friends saw the message and for some reason contacted the Coastguard on 999. We simply relayed the message to the police and ambulance.

"A police helicopter was deployed but was not required, as the Ambulance Service had found the lady."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph