23 May 2015

After a 2 year break: cave rescue!

Combine scampering around underground with nice people and learning something useful. And, perhaps, one day assisting someone who is in urgent need of assistance. Cave rescue is a win-win! I had enjoyed it in the southwest. In York I had offered my services to the local teams, but they had said that living in York itself I would be too far away from the venues where rescue would be needed. In North Wales I figured I couldn't afford it as long as I was teaching. But the teaching season is over! And then an announcement appeared online: the North Wales Cave Rescue Organisation (NWCRO) had a training day, and all were welcome. Team members, potential team members, people who didn't want to join but wanted to see and feel how they roll up here; it seemed like a good opportunity to see if the time maybe had come to rejoin. David and Phil had already decided to go.

On the day itself David and I drove the comfortably short distance to Capel Curig where the training would take place. No sign of Phil! He must have been too busy. Maybe better luck next time! We first got a bit of a briefing, and then it was time to get out and get going. We would be split in three groups, and by rotation do three sub-trainings; tyrolean-rigging, stretcher-carrying and radio-communication. For us in that order.

For those unfamiliar with the nomenclature: a Tyrolean is simply a rope stretched horizontally between anchor points. You can use it to move across yourself, or send items or persons in stretchers along. Can be necessary! We hadn't done that in the southwest; we had been more focused on vertical or oblique transportation. It was very useful!

 Rigging the tyrolean

The stretcher-faffing was a bit more old hat; DCRO had exactly the same system, so not much news there. Then we had lunch. Finally we practiced with heyphones; old hat too, but I got to practice my articulation, my conciseness and structure of messages, and note-taking too. All good! The trainers even saw the need to talk over us and sabotage our antenna to make things more challenging. And then it was time for the piece de resistance: an exercise to combine all three things!

For this occasion, we were split into two groups. We each got a stretcher. We were told to elect a casualty, take this casualty's medical stats, plonk them in the stretcher, carry them over an assault course, drop them down, radio their medical details to some controller, then carry them to a tree, rig a tyrolean and then haul the casualty to the other side, on belay, and without touching the ground. First team to touch down wins!

 Sending our casualty along our newly-rigged tyrolean

I think the other team won. But I was impressed with how we did! And it was fun! I think I'll sign up. That way the skills I learned these three years with DCRO are put right into use again! And I might add some new ones.

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