What3words app praised for helping emergency services find injured rider

The mother of a teenager who fell off while out riding has praised the what3words mobile app which helped rescue crews find her.

Liz O’Donoghue’s 16-year-old daughter Freya, who events to British Eventing BE90 level, was riding her Connemara Romeo and leading her New Forest pony Brandy on 29 October when she fell and needed emergency assistance.

Liz, of Richmond, North Yorkshire, told H&H: “I received a call from Freya to say she had fallen off. Brandy had spooked, set off in canter and instead of turning toward a stubble field she headed into woodland. Freya let go but got knocked off by a tree.

“I drove as far as I could towards Freya, but the track becomes narrow and unaccessible to vehicles. I came across Brandy walking towards me and a neighbour who had come to help led her home while I continued on foot.”

Liz found Freya, and a resident from a nearby home took Romeo home.

“Freya had hit her face and her nose was bleeding. She was very distressed and in a lot of pain at her knee and hip; I thought she must have broken something,” said Liz.

“There was no means of getting her to the car so I called for an ambulance. I walked back to the car to get some blankets and the ambulance service rang Freya to try to find out where exactly she was.”

Liz said the ambulance service sent Freya a link to the what3words app. The app splits the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares, each of which has a unique three-word address, enabling emergency services to pinpoint people in difficult to reach areas.

“Freya gave the three words and the ambulance service knew her location. The rescue was then passed to the Swaledale Mountain Rescue once they knew where we were,” she said.

“The mountain rescue texted Freya with a link to a system they also use that uses Ordnance Survey grid references. A first responder arrived and walked right to the spot Freya was.”

Freya was stretchered to a waiting ambulance and taken to hospital.

“She had X-rays and was given painkillers,” said Liz. “She hadn’t broken anything but the pain was causing her blood pressure to drop and she was kept in overnight.

“She was released the following evening with crutches and hopes to be back riding before an arena event at the end of the month, but we will need to see how she is.”

Liz said she was not previously aware of the what3words app.

“It’s a very good system. It was really quick and easy to use and it cut me out as the middle-man,” she said. “As a parent I felt helpless on the phone to the ambulance service; you tend to know the local area but you don’t usually know the postcode of a farmer’s land or woods,” she said.

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“Freya has recommended the app to her friends and I’ve downloaded it too. Until you have an accident you don’t think you’ll need something like that. In an emergency you have enough to think about so it removes that worry.”

A spokesman for Swaledale Mountain Rescue told H&H: “The patient used the what3words app to provide a location of the incident site. The app is widely used by emergency services across the UK including mountain rescue and is a great tool.

“Mountain rescue across the UK also have access to a system called SARLOC that allows the caller, with a data and GPS enabled mobile phone, to simply click a link within a text message. This immediately provides us with an accurate location and a pin in our mapping system. This was used as a back-up during the incident.”

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