The global award, in its 44th year, is presented by the UK’s Honourable Company of Air Pilots ‘for outstanding courage or devotion to duty in the course of land or sea search and rescue operations’.
The Inverness-based team comprised Captain Rob Green, Captain Simon Hammock, Philip Caudle and Duncan Tripp.
It honored the team’s actions on 2 March 2022, while responding to an incident on Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain.
The SAR team initially had reports of a 28-year-old male who had fallen on the mountain – however, upon arrival it became clear that the incident was far more complex, with multiple stranded casualties and one fatality, amid dangerous weather.
By the end of the shift, the team had rescued 24 casualties, despite ‘driving snow, gale-force winds and treacherous terrain’.
‘The highest standard’ of performance
Neil Ebberson, Bristow’s Director for UK Search and Rescue (SAR), explained: “The team did everything a first-class SAR crew would that night – and much more besides. What initially sounded like a fairly routine afternoon quickly turned into a major incident, with incredibly hostile conditions and multiple casualties all requiring aid. The need for a technical response as well as brave, selfless actions made it a truly demanding incident, and the team responded flawlessly.”
The Honourable Company of Air Pilots noted: “The winchman’s actions on the mountain side demonstrated selfless tenacity and bravery in the face of the most demanding situation. However, the entire crew, faced with a developing multiple casualty scenario, displayed the highest standard of crew-cooperation, judgment and handling skills to ensure a safe outcome for those in danger.”