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JDF rescues men in Cockpit Country

Sunday, January 12, 2014    

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TWO men who were missing for three days in the hills of the Cockpit Country were Thursday morning rescued by a search and rescue team from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Air Wing.

The men — Fabian Stennett and Ainsley Medley of Tangle River in St James — departed Garden Pass, St James for Accompong Town in St Elizabeth. Journeying by foot, the men had planned to take a route through the hills of the Cockpit Country when they got lost, disoriented, tired and dehydrated.

The JDF, which was notified late Wednesday evening about the missing men, said it could not launch a rescue mission until Thursday morning as nightfall would have made the operation even more difficult and dangerous. The men, according to the army, had a cellphone and were in contact with the JDF Air Wing who gave them instructions on what to do and how to secure themselves overnight. They were also given instructions on how to light a fire and keep themselves warm and dry.

According to Major Basil Jarrett, civil military cooperation and media affairs officer for the JDF, a search and rescue team was deployed from Up Park Camp at 6:20 am Thursday and during the mission smoke was seen coming from an area in the hills of the Cockpit Country.

"The men, who were spotted seven miles northwest of Accompong Town, signalled the aircraft to their location. They were then pulled into the helicopter and flown to Elderslie in St Elizabeth where they were reunited with family and loved ones before being taken to a health-care facility for precautionary medical attention," Major Jarrett said.

The JDF Air Wing and the JDF Coast Guard are the primary units responsible for search and rescue missions. Last year, both units combined to carry out 47 such missions, saving 180 lives in the process.

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