A physiotherapist who saved a man’s life after he suffered a cardiac arrest while scaling Britain’s highest mountain has returned to the summit two years later – alongside her new friend.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, NHS physiotherapist Courtney Ferguson took up climbing Munros in her spare time.
In August 2020, she decided to tackle Ben Nevis with her sister Brogan.
At the same time, Trevor Botwood was also scaling the 4,413ft mountain with his sister in memory of his nephew so that he could be “one step closer to heaven”.
However the 63-year-old collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest during the climb.
The 27-year-old physiotherapist from Edinburgh saw Trevor fall and hit his head on rocks – and leapt into action.
She said: “The mountain was busy with tourists, everyone was encouraging one another to keep on going.
“I saw a man around the halfway point leaning into his walking poles, I stopped to offer some encouragement when he tumbled forwards hitting his head off the rocks.”
She said that her “previous training just kicked in” and when she searched for a pulse on Trevor, she was unable to find one.
She explained: “I managed to get another passer-by to help hold Trevor’s head to aid his airway, while I started doing chest compressions.
“My sister Brogan called 999 and alerted Trevor’s sister who was further down the mountain.”
Whilst on the phone, Brogan downloaded the what3words app which gives a unique three-word combination for every three-metre square on earth.
The tool can enable friends or emergency services to locate your exact position.
Courtney’s swift reaction was critical to saving Trevor’s life.
She added: “When Trevor finally regained consciousness, I was able to use what I had learned during my time in ICU throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and knelt behind him holding him until the helicopter got there as he was quite distressed.
“It felt like it had only been around ten minutes, but actually I carried out chest compressions for nearly 20 minutes.”
Trevor was flown to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow for treatment and later was transferred to a hospital in his hometown of Leeds where he made a full recovery.
Since the incident, the two have kept in touch and become good friends, with both making the journey across the border to spend time in each other’s hometowns.
Trevor said: “I owe my life to Courtney, she’s a beautiful person inside and out. I was nervous about seeing her again for the first time after the accident. My wife and I travelled to Edinburgh to meet Courtney and Brogan and we just instantly hit it off. She is now part of our extended family.”
This August, the pair decided to hike Ben Nevis together with friends and family to raise money for the mountain rescue service.
Trevor added: “I decided that in order to move on and put the incident to bed I had to try and climb Ben Nevis again. I am usually a fit and healthy person and go on many walks – it just so happened that on that day in 2020 something went wrong.
“Heading back up Ben Nevis with Courtney two years after she saved my life felt really special. If it wasn’t for her and her swift actions, I wouldn’t be here today. It was brilliant to finally reach the top, it was like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
“We’ll be planning our next trip to meet Courtney and her family again soon.”
Scottish Mountain Rescue is a community of 25 member mountain rescue teams which deliver a search and rescue service and respond to requests from Police Scotland.