Red Bull to highlight copycat diving risks after GP's warning


ENERGY DRINK company Red Bull has said it will publicise the risks associated with copycat diving attempts at its international cliff-diving event on the Aran island of Inis Mór early next month.

The company was responding to concerns raised by the island’s general practitioner, Dr Marion Broderick, who had treated injuries sustained in a number of copycat attempts after a similar Red Bull event on the island in 2009.

Dr Broderick, GP for the three islands, Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Thiar, and medical officer with the RNLI Aran lifeboat, said she had “no worries” about the professionals who would be making the 27m dive into Poll na bPéist (the Worm Hole) on Inis Mór on August 4th.

She said her concern related to the safety of untrained individuals who might sustain serious injuries in similar attempts at a later date.

A similar event held by Red Bull at the same location in 2009 was posted on YouTube and resulted in copycat attempts at later dates when there was no safety or rescue plan in place.

One of the cases involved a “very serious” spinal injury with multiple fractures, Dr Broderick added.

She said she was aware the company would have a “very well staffed emergency and rescue plan” in place for the August event, which would also involve ensuring the safety of some 700 spectators on a clifftop above the naturally formed rectangular blowhole.

Red Bull told The Irish Times yesterday its “number-one priority with any event is the safety of the public, the athletes and all involved”.

“Red Bull will stress at the diving event, as they do at other events, that persons should not attempt to imitate what highly skilled athletes perform in carefully managed circumstances,” the company said.

The Health Service Executive West said that as the event did not involve crowds of more than 5,000 people, it did not require a “large crowd event licence”, but organisers were finalising a management plan.

Poll na bPéist’s location is such that mobile phone coverage is poor or non-existent, while the island doctor has not been provided with a hand-held VHF radio.

There is no weekend public health nurse back-up.

Dr Broderick said while the many visitors on an August bank holiday weekend would be very welcome, “we need the message to go out, loud and clear, from Red Bull that this extreme sport is for very highly trained, skilled professionals only”.

She warned that Poll na bPéist would otherwise “become famous for the wrong reasons”.