Emergency & Risks Note

Please print this if possible and carry with you on Gometra.


Medical Emergency - Grid Ref : nm357407; 56deg 29’07’ N, 6 deg 16’ 52” W.  MAP.


In Emergency :  Ring 999  and explain you are on a remote island, near Staffa off the Island of Mull in the Inner Hebrides.  There is no NHS ambulance service and any evacuation will be by lifeboat or helicopter.


Salen G.P. Surgery Number is 01680 300327.  NHS24 number is 08454 242424.


The following is the advice of our G.P. surgery at Salen on the Isle of Mull regarding accessing medical help :


With the new NHS24 arrangements Gometra is now in the same position as the rest of Mull and possibly the whole of Scotland (according to NHS 24). If your call is OOH ie 6pm -8am you should phone NHS 24  - it is the only means now of contacting a GP out of hours for all medical matters. The call handler will either give advice, contact the GP on your behalf or summon an ambulance. SAS (Scottish Ambulance Service ) will decide the most appropriate form of transport. In any emergency, life threatening or otherwise, if you dial 999 the ambulance service will dispatch whatever means necessary to collect your casualty.


NHS 24 call handlers are trained triage experts and are medical personnel. They will determine whether you can wait to see a GP when the surgery is next open, whether attendance at a medical centre/hospital is indicated or whether a 999 response is advisable. They will give advice as appropriate to the situation and call out transport if your patient needs GP attention so you should not need to wait for a return call. They are aware of the transport problems throughout Mull so if they advise attending the hospital you should tell them that you will need transport and advise them of the  logistical problems in getting to the hospital. they should then organise your evacuation. You should also advise them of your telephone connectivity problems if they offer a call back.


In hours you should only phone the surgery number for advise on minor matters, the only difficulty then will be connecting you to the GP if your phone connection remains a problem and they are with someone or out on a call. in an emergency you should always ring 999 and the Scottish ambulance service will co-ordinate evacuation, be it lifeboat, helicopter or whatever.


NHS inform offer a health information service on 0800 22 44 88 (8am -10pm) and can provide general information on health matters. a web address is also available for "urgent advice for caring for yourself" at www.nhs24.net


I think with the NHS 24 cover in place Gometra might actually be in a better position for accessing healthcare in and OOH. if in doubt, err on the side of caution and 999.


Risks Note


Gometra Farm occupies the Island of Gometra, near the Island of Ulva, near the Island of Mull in the Hebrides.  The island is exposed to winds, tides and waves and there are extreme weather events.  Being an island there are deep-water hazards, and the natural terrain is rough, with many cliffs, unprotected drops and steep slopes.  There is low ambient lighting from light pollution, so that by night it can be very dark.  NHS Scotland provision of medical services to the island is poor, especially in respect of patient transport to A&E on Mull, and domiciliary visits.


a) Acharsaid Mhor Pier.  We recommend being suitably equipped for adverse conditions and accessing Gometra by the rough hill track via Ulva Ferry.


The private farm pier is designed for the movement of livestock, not people.  It has an uneven surface due to its being formed partially from living rock, a sloping surface so as to accommodate a 4m tidal range, and its surface is partially rock, partially gravel, partially concrete.  It floods at high water and dries at low water.  It is a potential slip and trip hazard and a potential deep water hazard.  We cannot recommend its use by third parties.


We do not prohibit occasional non-commercial use on a goodwill basis until further notice but only provided you are experienced, it is entirely at your own risk, and you take proper precautions to address the hazards and assess the risks.  Unfortunately we cannot allow commercial use, nor take any responsibility for your commercial or non-commercial use of the pier, and if you want us to take such responsibility you must not use it.  If you would like to use the pier for commercial use, please get in touch so we can try to find a way to enable this safely.


b) Derelict piers : These are not maintained and must not be used.


c) Natural Hazards : These include cliffs, coastline, adverse weather, darkness, tides.  Please take care and bear in mind that you may not have encountered similar conditions before.


d) Am Bru Bridge and causeway.  This is a short causeway and 10' long lifting aluminum bridge, approximately 10' above the seabed which is exposed at low water and flooded at high water springs and in conditions of storm surge.  The bridge is lifted to enable the taking of rights to public navigation through the sound between Gometra and Ulva.  The causeway is also in use as a standby pier for poor weather which limits potential for safety rails.


Potential hazards : falling from bridge or causeway or from lifted bridge either into water or onto seabed.   It is a potential slip and trip hazard and a potential deep water hazard.  There is low ambient lighting, no electricity supply on the island, and occasional extreme weather conditions.  The sea ford should only be crossed at low water, and having regard for the slippery nature of the sea bed.  A torch should be used for crossing the bridge and causeway at night.


e) Farmyard : The farmyard is in two parts with various enclosures, an inner part with Byre and Fank and dip, and an outer part with parking for machinery and stock shed.


Potential Hazards : These include drops, steep steps, livestock, machinery, livestock medication, and stored building materials.  Access to the farmyard for the public is by invitation only, and at own risk.


f) Cattle.  Not currently applicable since cattle have been sold.


g) Track.  Track across Gometra is rough.  Parts are deeply rutted and slippery, parts lie across open fields.  There are no rights of way across the island but there has been a goodwill permissive waymarked walk, with direction signs, provided by Gometra Farm on an 'at own risk basis' for many years.  The track has infrequent passers by, so that should someone get into difficulties, it would be some time before they were discovered.


h) Quad : This is currently the only functioning motorised vehicle on the island.  It is in regular use for transporting feedstuffs, building materials, livestock etc.  It belongs to Ms Rhoda Munro.  Quads are known to be hazardous, and they can be overturned even by experienced drivers.  (Note: Mrs Rhoda Munro now has a quad and a Land Rover.)


I) Stalking.  Please note that stalking regularly takes place on Gometra.  Please take all normal access-taker precautions.


k) Fire / CO.  Due to absence of mains electricity and gas, heating and lighting on Gometra is often by means of candles and open fires / solid fuel stoves.  We have developed a light-generator-use policy due to statutory nuisance experiences from noise and fumes in the past.  The fire service based in Salen on Mull is likely to take a considerable time to reach the island.   It is important that tenants regularly check smoke and CO alarms provided in each property.


l) Lyme disease.  There is incidence in Highlands, state of knowledge and guidance are not perfect.  Consider wearing slippery trousers tucked into socks, brush down after being in long vegetation.  Check self and children for ticks, if you get a tick remove promptly, look out for symptoms (bullseye rash, fever), and contact GP if concerned.


NHS information at http://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/giz/lymedisease.aspx and http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Lyme-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx.


m) Water quality, absence of running water.  We have fitted chlorinating plant so as to comply with EU water directive.  Water supply often dries up during summer months.


o) Falls, steep stairs and steps.  There are numerous natural cliffs and drops throughout the island.  These are natural hazards which one would expect to find on an island like Gometra, and it would be near impossible to protect them.  There are also man-made drops along the ha-ha and ramp in front of Gometra house, the stone stairs to upper floor of Steading, and steep stairs to the attic in one of the cottages.  The walled garden of Gometra House is unsound and should be strictly avoided.


p) Stock medication, especially dip


Potential hazards : We no longer use a plunge dip but use pour-on preparations.  These are toxic and need care in their handling and application, which should only be by licensed and trained stockman.  Protective clothing should be worn by anyone at risk of coming into contact with treated animals.


q) E. Coli.  Please see http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/37428/0012529.pdf


r) Snake (adder) bite.  (Note: I have seen adders on Mull but never on Gometra.)


Immediately after being bitten by a snake you should:


   * remain calm and don't panic; snake bites, particularly those that occur in the UK, are not often serious and rarely deadly

   * try to remember the shape, size and colour of the snake

   * keep the part of your body that has been bitten as still as possible to prevent the venom spreading around your body

   * remove jewellery and watches from the bitten limb because they could cut into your skin if the limb swells

   * do not attempt to remove any clothing, such as trousers


Seek immediate medical assistance by dialling 999 to request an ambulance or visit your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department.

You should give healthcare professionals a description of the snake to help identify it.

You may be admitted to hospital so the bite can be assessed and your condition closely monitored.




Appendix – Helicopter landing requirements and advice


From: KennyDevine<Kenny.Devine@mcga.gov.uk>
Subject: Re:ContingencyplanningforaccidentsonIsleofGometra

Date: 9 February 2012 13:27:31 GMT
To: RocSandford<rocsandford@mac.com>

Dear Mr Sandford,
Generally on an island such as Gometra it is a good idea to investigate and identify an Emergency Helo Landing site.

HM Coastguard only initiates helicopter assistance for maritime matters, whilst the medical authorities (in your case mainland GP) would request a helicopter for land evacuation. Often medical evacuations are either done by Military helicopters or by Coastguard Helicopter.

Generally for Military or Coastguard helicopters, bearing in mind that the rotor span is in the area of 60 feet, with the overall length of the aircraft in the region of 75 feet. The area required to land would be no less than 60 yards (paces) square. The ground should be as flat as possible with good clear access and egress into the windward with no overhead hazards such as cables or telephone wires and no livestock in the area. Loose debris should be removed from the site prior to the aircraft arrival as the downdraft can be substantial and cause debris to fly around potentially casing harm to the aircraft and people on the ground.

Care should be taken not to approach the aircraft until instructed to do so and you should never approach an aircraft from a slope and you should only approach from the Starboard forward side (12 o'clock to 3 o'clock) to enable the pilot to see you. Do not go near the tail end of the aircraft.

Night time landing can be assisted by vehicle headlights or if unable to do so, mark the site with a series of torches in the form of a T. Remember that all aircraft will approach for landing and winching into the wind and the landing area should reflect this.

Military and coastguard helicopters all have marine radio VHF although if you are not accustomed to it, voice communications can be difficult especially with military aircraft.

I hope this information may be of some use but feel free to contact on my office number 01631 562685 should you require any further advice.

Regards Kenny Devine

Kenneth Devine Sector Manager
26 Stevenson Street Oban
01631 562685


All text and Images © Roc Sandford, Gometra, 2015 unless otherwise stated.  Please let us know of any corrections or suggestions.  To contact us click here.