Local paramedic to kayak round Islay

Local paramedic Joe Hughes is to kayak round Islay’s coast to raise money to increase Islay’s supply of defibrillators.

To raise the necessary funds Joe will undertake a circumnavigation of Islay in his kayak on Saturday 8 July 2017. This will be a distance of around 135km and take in the region of 25-30 hours. He will be supported throughout the trip by friends and colleagues in the emergency services along with members of Islay Kayak club. This is an extreme event which will see Joe battle stresses and strains along with mental and physical fatigue.

Joe is a keen Kayaker, having started when he was eighteen years old. He has paddled to St Kilda and around Skye during the past eight years so can consider himself an experienced kayaker. His circumnavigation of Islay will, however, be a first. 'It’s certainly a challenge,' Joe said. 'I’ve never paddled that distance before.' His training for the challenge has involved a number of 40 kilometre paddles. He has gone from Port Ellen to Port Askaig and also from Port Askaig to Bowmore. Joe thinks that June is the best month to attempt the challenge, the days being very long. He is timing things so that he will paddle the west coast during the hours of daylight. Continue reading...

Though he will be circumnavigating the island in 23 to 30 hours, he will occasionally beach his kayak to stretch his legs and eat! Joe said, “I have not undertaken this challenge lightly and don’t underestimate what’s involved. It would be easy to do it over two days, but where is the challenge in that?

However, the last thing I want to do is put other people in any danger of having to rescue me. Joe explained that he had looked at doing this last year but was nowhere near paddle fit then so you could say that the event had been a year in the planning.

There was a lot of planning involved with the route, looking at tides and timings, arranging communications locally and with the coastguard at Belfast, having all the appropriate safety equipment including having a personal locator beacon, flares, strobes etc., highlighting exit points if he needed to get off the water and looking at it from a medical point of view. He considered what could be done to prevent injury, blisters, sickness and cramp. He also considered where support would be needed for the main areas of concern, particularly the Sound of Islay, the Oa, the Rhinns  and the west coast.

Joe hopes that his efforts will raise around £10,000. He contributes a large amount of his time to the organisation and planning of multi-agency exercises for Islay’s emergency services and is a key player in delivering the British Heart Foundation’s “Heartstart Training” to the public on Islay.

Joe is looking to purchase three or, if possible, five defibrillators including support packages, to be placed at Port Ellen, Port Charlotte and Port Askaig and in other emergency service vehicles based on Islay. This will increase the accessibility of such devices so they can be quickly retrieved and used in an emergency. The Scottish Ambulance Service will map the location of these defibrillators, so in the event of a cardiac arrest the caller will be directed to the nearest defibrillator and code to access it.

These defibrillators save lives. The Ileach has previously reported on Kilchoman Open Day’s provision of two defibrillators in the Rhinns area, but Islay needs more.

Joe’s friends and colleagues for this venture are presently writing to local businesses seeking sponsorship and donations to support this worthwhile campaign.

Donations can be made through the justgiving page at www.justgiving.com.

Tag: kayak charity

Published with kind permission of the Ileach News paper