Anstruther lifeboat crew called out after diver suffers chemical burns

Ambulance on scene at Anstruther harbour to receive injured diver from Anstruther Lifeboat crew.
Ambulance on scene at Anstruther harbour to receive injured diver from Anstruther Lifeboat crew.

Anstruther Lifeboat crews were called to assist a diver who was burned when a chemical heat pad exploded during his dive.

The assistance of the volunteer lifeboat crews at Anstruther were called upon on Saturday (August 22) when a diver, diving in an area known as ‘Wee Bankie’ - which is approximately 16 miles east of Anstruther - sustained chemical burns.

Around 12.20pm, HM Coastguard requested the Anstruther all-weather lifeboat ‘Kingdom of Fife’ launch to assist the skipper of a local dive boat who had called in a report of a diver having been injured.

It was soon discovered that the injured diver, a man in his 50s, had sustained a serious chemical burn to his lower back when a heat pad he was wearing under his dive suit to provide relief for muscle spasm had exploded/ignited when he routinely vented his dive suit with oxygen during his dive.

Diving at a depth of 150 feet, the man, who was a very experienced diver, had to endure a painful controlled and staged ascent to the surface.

Once there, he was assisted into the dive boat where colleagues set about providing first aid and irrigation to the burn.

In response to the pager alert, Morag Morris, who is on the shore crew at Anstruther and is a paramedic in her day job, arrived at the lifeboat station and was taken out to join the crew of the ALB.

On arrival at the scene, the lifeboat crew provided first aid to the casualty under the supervision of Morag and he was then conveyed to Anstruther Harbour where an ambulance was waiting to transfer him to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

John Murray, Anstruther Lifeboat operations manager, commented: “This section of the River Forth around the East Neuk is littered with wrecks and proves to be a very popular location for divers.

“Every once in a while, a diver has a mishap and needs some support or assistance from the RNLI.

“On this occasion I have to praise the skipper of the local dive boat and the divers themselves for the way in which they remained calm to deal with this situation.

“They were well equipped and ready to deal effectively with this incident.

“We are also very lucky at Anstruther to have a paramedic as part of our team. Morag was on scene to assist and this man was handed over to the ambulance crew having received the very best level of first aid.”