Belfast Telegraph

NI radio ham Esther to rescue after mayday call from Wales

Esther Harper from Dungiven helped alert Air Ambulance Wales to a person needing urgent medical assistance
Esther Harper from Dungiven helped alert Air Ambulance Wales to a person needing urgent medical assistance
Esther Harper with her husband Ivan

By Chelsie Kealey

An amateur radio enthusiast from Co Londonderry has helped rescue a man more than 300 miles away in Wales.

Dungiven couple Esther Harper (59) and her husband Ivan Evans (58) were in Co Fermanagh near the border town of Belcoo yesterday lunchtime when Esther received a mayday call.

Fellow radio ham Richard Haynes had stumbled across what he believed to be an injured motorist in the county of Ceredigion.

The driver was on the Greenlaning Road on the Strata Florida trail, an off-road driving route.

Richard radioed Esther, who was surprised to receive the mayday call.

"I had great signal, which is very unusual for that part of the Mournes," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I had never heard a mayday call before."

Esther immediately sprang into action and rang 999.

The emergency operator asked her to ring Richard back and get further details, because the rescue services weren't sure if the call was genuine at the time.

When Esther radioed back she was able to get a grid reference and asked Richard to name a town close to where they were.

From these details, the rescue services in Northern Ireland were able to contact the ambulance service in Wales. The emergency services were able to scramble a helicopter with a medical crew aboard, which was successful in rescuing the injured party.

After the brief encounter on the radio Esther heard nothing until later that evening.

But at around 8pm Richard got in contact to confirm the emergency services had arrived. Esther, who has been battling leukemia since November of last year, was unable to confirm the condition of the injured person, but was told that he had been air lifted within an hour of her ringing 999.

"I was amazed at the link-up between the different services, we were taken aback," Esther said.

She and her husband both have radio licences.

Esther has had hers since 1984, when she passed two exams and learnt Morse code.

Both are members of the Northern Ireland North West Raynet group, which is part of a British national voluntary communications service provided by amateur radio operators.

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