Dog could have helped save man’s life

BSARU members search Milldown Burn above Coldingham Bay
BSARU members search Milldown Burn above Coldingham Bay

THEy say that a a man’s best friend is his dog and there’s a pensioner in Coldingham who will certainly vouch for that after what he went through at the weekend.

Seventy three-year-old Jimmy Brown is recovering in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after slipping down a gully a quarter of a mile away from his home on Friday.

He went for his daily paper as normal on Friday morning but after failing to turn up for an appointment later in the day and failing to get in contact with family and friends, concern grew for his welfare and whereabouts.

Relatives searched for Jimmy all day Saturday but after finding no trace he was officially reported as missing on Saturday night and by the time Borders Search and Rescue Unit mounted their search on Sunday morning, the chances of finding the pensioner alive grew slimmer.

However, there was a happy ending to the story as after less than an hour of searching, the 18 strong Search and Rescue Team were informed of Jimmy’s whereabouts by a local farmer who had found him near Milldown Farm.

Jimmy had come come to rest on a fence, which prevented his falling further into the burn and almost certainly saved his life.

And he couldn’t have asked for a more faithful companion, as there by his side was his loyal pet terrier, Misty, completely untethered.

It is thought that Misty’s barks may well have alerted people to Jimmy’s location.

When rescuers reached Jimmy he was suffering from hypothermia, was unconscious, and required urgent medical attention. This was provided in the first instance by two members of the Search and Rescue team.

This immediate life-saving first-aid was followed by a speedy evacuation from his precarious position to a waiting ambulance, which whisked him off to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where doctors hope he will make a good recovery.

BSARU team leader Seymour Haugh was delighted that a life had been saved when all the signs were suggesting Jimmy wouldn’t have been able to survive, adding that the dog’s presence could well have boosted his chances.

He commented: “The fact that he had been missing, along with his dog, for 48 hours, during which the weather had been pretty unrelentingly foul, made the family and everyone involved in the search, fear the worst. That he was found alive is testament to his tenacity.

“He would have been lying there overnight, He might have been lying there longer.

“He was responding to the team member’s voice, he was drifting in and out of consciousness.

“The dog was there with him. The dog was shaking at one point, but it might just have been nervous.

“I don’t know if it saved his life, but certainly if it snuggled up to him there would have been an exchange of warmth.”

“We have seen previous cases where the close proximity of a casualty’s dog has helped to maintain body temperature, and this may well hold true in this particular instance.

“The team was actually assembling for a training exercise near Kelso when the call went out, and the fact that we had eighteen personnel already in transit and able to divert to Eyemouth was a stroke of luck.

“That, the quick locating of the casualty and the prompt first-aid we were able to administer almost certainly saved a man’s life. It’s very gratifying – it’s what we train for after all.”