The first operational use of a new location-finding app proved a success during a rescue at Luskentyre sands late yesterday (Wednesday September 4th).

Stornoway Coastguard officers received a call for help from Scottish Ambulance at 9.08pm, after a man called 999 when he injured his ankle while walking on the sands.

The 30-year-old visitor was alone and was not sure exactly where he was in Luskentyre, having walked over dunes and onto the sands as darkness was falling.

Coastguard officers asked rescue helicopter R948 to help and tasked Coastguard Rescue Teams from Tarbert and Scalpay to the scene, where an ambulance was already waiting. The helicopter, up on a training flight, was able to reach the location quickly.

At the same time, Coastguard officers had texted the casualty with a link to the app what3words, which defines every three-metre square of the world using a unique combination of three words. They also asked him to shine the torch on his phone when he heard help coming.

The helicopter was directed to the casualty after he’d been pinpointed by the three words named:zipped:classmate. R948 shone a spotlight on the precise location and Coastguard volunteer teams were quickly at the right spot, close to Luskentyre old cemetery.

They helped him up to the road and to the waiting ambulance, from where he was taken to Western Isles Hospital for attention to a minor ankle injury.

A Maritime Operations Officer told today (Thursday): “This was the first time we had used the app after being introduced to it and told that we have it as an option for locating casualties. The team were delighted with how well it worked.

“It was very useful to have as an additional resource when we were searching in the dark, over a large area and with a casualty who was not able to describe his exact location.”

You can find the app and pinpoint any location using it at