My Last School Trip 11: Scruffy’s Rescue Rangers

Scruffy’s Rescue Rangers

Ellis knew what he was doing, being one of the local mountain rescue team. He took control, clearing most of the students away, giving Dean his satellite phone to call for an ambulance, cutting the guy’s shoe laces and taking off his trainer to ease the swelling, sending Gemma for a wet towel to wrap the foot and relieve the pain. Once the patient was reasonably comfortable, Ellis and Nerys lifted him into the collapsible stretcher, wrapped him in foil, carried him down to the Land Rover and drove to meet the ambulance at the car park. We followed on foot, in time to see the paramedics closing the ambulance doors.

“Well done, you guys,” said the driver. “Is this the rescue dog? Scruffy is it? Good Boy! You’ve saved a life this afternoon, you have. A night on the mountain would have seen this fellow off, and no mistake. Thank God you people had the dog with you. Well. We’d best get our patient to hospital. We’ll be seeing you.”

After that we sat down to eat our sandwiches. Everyone was tired, muted by the thought of what might have happened. The geeks were too exhausted to film after the ambulance left, Suddenly Gemma got to her feet and stumbled away from the rest of us. We could hear her being very sick.

I was sitting with the other staff a little apart from the students. “I’ll go”, said Mrs Cockle, and she started telling Gemma to pull herself together and stop being a baby. Not the wisest thing to say. Stacey was on her feet and how I wish I’d had this speech on video. Top marks for speaking and listening here! Stacey knows how to insult politely. Mrs Cockle got both barrels: my brother-in-law won’t let me quote her exactly, so I précis: no-one was left in any doubt that the exertions of climbing the mountain and the humiliation of falling in the cold river had really shaken Gemma up, let alone that she’d helped the guy who was nearly dead; and she was away from home for the first time without her mother, having saved her Saturday job money to pay for the trip. Mrs Cockle was complacent, uncaring for either the poor man in the ambulance or for Gemma, but then she only ever had a good word for the girls who did well at sport, according to Stacey’s friends at Mrs Cockle’s school. That said, Stacey burst into tears, to be comforted by Gemma, while Nerys wrapped a foil blanket around the two of them.

Mrs Cockle said nothing. I had nothing to say except, “Stop whistling Darren, do you want it to rain?” At which point we all finished our sandwiches in silence, those of us who could eat. After a few minutes we returned to the minibuses and drove solemnly back to the Mill. It was once again too late to put Darren and Scruffy on the train at Abergavenny, but since neither Mr Cockle nor Mr Kipling mentioned the idea, I was not about to.

Hot showers helped restore aching bones and feelings and appetites, and everyone was ready to settle down in front of the wide screen television to watch the United game, which they lost 3-2. Cheers all round. There followed the BBC Wales News, with a report on how a man with a broken ankle was rescued on Pen-y-fan. There was another big cheer from everyone when the newsreader mentioned that the patient remembered how a dog called Scruffy had found him and brought help. His wife told the nation how grateful she was, and how Scruffy had surely saved a man’s life. “What a wonderful, intelligent dog he must be!” she said.


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