Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD can you help highlight this tragic medical illness. The 22 Aug is a big day!

Many will know my thoughts on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and how it affected myself and many of my RAF Mountain Rescue Team  and our civilian teams after Lockerbie in 1988 . It was a nightmare that despite that I had seen some of the worst that the mountains had and dealt with many fatalities and tragedies. In addition I had been to many aircraft crashes these are another horror that at times you have to live with, this was our job in the RAF.  Lockerbie was so different and to see such sights was a nightmare I will never forget, I knew my team and me were having problems and asked for help. The establishment both in the Military and in Mountain Rescue at the time told me in no uncertain terms that it there was no problems and there was no such thing. The new name  PTSD came out after this after years of fighting to get such an illness acknowledged. In these dark days we were told to “Man up ” and get on with our lives, by many who knew little. Even worse in the military as at the time as there was still stigma at times about needing assistance after a difficult tragedy.   In addition if you went sick then after a time you could have lost your job. I was lucky I had huge help from my team who covered for me till I recovered. 

It has taken nearly 25 years to recover fully and hard work by many friends family and the odd expert. I have spoken to several people recently in differing aspects of the Emergency Services and the military and it is still a problem. Some of the recent tragedies like the huge avalanches in Scotland of last year were a hard time for those involved in the recovery and a few spoke to me personally about their experiences and I hope I managed to help them. I lecture regularly and always mention my problems with PTSD and how I managed to control it. This definitely helps people approach me and I can offer my experiences and where to get help. I attended a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Course in April 1997 nearly 10 years after Lockerbie this was held in Northern Ireland. This was to help us deal with potential problems in teams and within the military with PTSD. It was a hard 3 days and we were with many Irish who had been part of the terrible tragedy that was Ireland at that time. It did help and we came a long way with many ways of helping our teams and friends in the future but there is much to be done yet.

I showed many of the traits of PTSD and had the nightmares, lack of concentration, flashes of anger, depression and many others and hid them from all. My family suffered for many years and had no clue what was wrong and I found it very difficult to get help. Many had no clue what happened at Lockerbie and no idea of what we did and saw.


Thinking time?

I had a last medical when I retired in 2007 and they look through your documents check you out and I was asked about PTSD and how could a Caterer ( I was a Caterer by trade) could be effected) was I cooking near the crash site?

I never answered I was that annoyed and walked away.

If you run a team or work in the Emergency Services it is well worth getting all the information about the real problems that can occur with you and your people.  As I have said many never suffer but many do, it may be well worth looking around and remembering that big boy’s and girls do cry and some may need help?

It is also worth thinking that if you are the one doing the  talking you need someone to help you. I am more than willing to talk about my life in Rescue and the effects of PTSD and though it hurts it is worth spreading the word and how to get help.

Who cares for the Carers?  Well worth remembering?

Just now there is a big push to highlight the effects of PTSD and a friend Andy Elwood and ex RAF Winchman is trying to get a many emergency services as he can involved be read below and if you can contact him through the links.

From Andy Elwood

Hi Heavy. Any help you can give me at all with my final day of raising awareness for mental health & PTSD through  22challenge – I’m organising a multi services event for services, veterans & 999 family where we all do 22 press-ups together, with our emergency vehicles, vessels & aircraft in order to raise awareness through a viral video effort. I know you have come across this thru various callouts over the years including Lockerbie. I would really appreciate any help, publicity, promo you could do? I had a 22 press-up video arranged with the RAF Leeming team on Sat in Hathersage, but they got diverted to Snowdon!! So Edale team stepped in at last-minute. I love MR and have been out with teams many times in my early days as a” dope-on-a-rope at Lossie.”

Many many times I was so glad to see the lads, no more so than when R137 froze up in Northern Corries 2006! Hope to hear from u, Andy

Latest fro, Andy – Tthis is spiralling up like I hoped – PTSD999 have made me a Patron – e it – off for interview now – BBC. Idea is clear in my head now please – if you blog re event Big22 on Facebook – (91k people talking about it) – we want 999teams to do a video together of 22 press-ups and showing its ok to talk. No-one should suffer in silence. I’m getting website up & running today I hope & I can post best videos on there. This should be a bit of healthy competitiveness amongst teams & I have interest around the globe. Also builds the interest & people can be part of Big22 on 22AUg even if not able to attend – that’s the nature of 999 duty anyway. Thanks Heavy – gotta run. chat later if u need, Andy

Event Website and Facebook Page:

Please share and pass on help Andy but remember PTSD is not just for 22 days for many it is for life.


Slipway opposite the Hovercraft Museum

Seaplane Square

Marine Parade West


PO15 9NS


Date: 22nd August 2016



  • Arrival from 2.15pm
  • All vessels and vehicles should be in position by 2.45pm
  • Filming starts at 3pm prompt


Prior to Monday 22nd:

  • Please submit your #22challenge team videos at so they can be shared in order to raise publicity for the event as well as #22challenge and #itsoktotalk.
  • There will be videos coming in from as far afield as Curacao, Nepal, USA, Australia and the Falklands.
  • Be creative as only the best videos will go on the website!
  • Go to to check out the competition!


What’s going to happen on the day?


  • Emergency vehicles and vessels need to be assembled by 2.30pm at the latest
  • Emergency vehicles and vessels need to be in position by 2.45pm at the latest
  • Please position yourself on or next to your vehicle to do the press-ups
  • Anyone can take part in the press-ups
  • Supporters are welcome to come along and take part
  • There will be aircraft flying past so it will be noisy
  • Someone with a megaphone will tell you when to start the press-ups
  • Filming will be done by the various aircrew and key people on the ground
  • Filming will start at 3pm prompt
  • The event will take place no matter what the weather



  • PLEASE DO NOT post your own videos on social media.  We are trying to get the official event video to go viral so we need to release a single video which can then be shared by everyone involved.
  • PLEASE DO send your videos of the Big22 to so they can be edited together into a single official event video
  • PLEASE send any team #22challenge videos that you’ve done prior to the event to in order to raise publicity ahead of the event



  • Parking – there’s a large car park at the location and plenty of additional space on the grass.  There’s also another car park a short walk down the beach.
  • Toilets – there are toilets at the next car park further down the beach towards Lee.
  • Food & drink – there are shops on the main street one street back off the waterfront.


A must read for emergency services.

A must read for emergency services.

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
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