We had only just done a cave rescue training, but we already had another one coming up! This time we would be in the East. Initially, we were supposed to go underground, but because of the worsening Covid situation the organisation had decided against. We would just be training at the NEWSAR base. As it was quite far away I had decided to make it a whole day; first I would sleep in the hills, then I would explore the Clwydian range, after that I would go to the training, and I would then end the day by visiting my friends Guy and Kate who live in the East these days. And if I felt like it, I could add another night in the hills to that.
The night in the hills was beautiful but damp; the Clwydian range was slightly underwhelming, and then I found the training ground. I got out of my car and then things turned unexpected. One of the other cars held Ed, who had been a Thursdaynighter and an SOS PhD student until a few years ago, but after finishing his PhD had moved far south as he found a job there. What was he doing here? It turned out he had just moved back to North Wales, and had rejoined the team. So that explained him being there. The other strange thing was that he greeted me enthusiastically. When the Thursdaynighters called their boycott, he joined it, and stopped answering my emails. When I confronted him about that he said he did not remember behaving in such way. Needless to say that I do! And I have heard better justifications of people's actions, but well, we were here for training, and the briefing started.
The idea was that we would split into two groups; one group would practice dealing with a person who had been travelling up or down a rope, but had become incapacitated; as a situation like that comes with the risk of suspension trauma, we would have to be able to get them off that rope really quickly. For this exercise, we had a dummy, as we didn't want to risk suspension trauma in a real person. The other group would practice getting someone (another dummy) into a stretcher and then suspended vertically. We had a new stretcher and we needed to know what it did!
I was in the first group, so we picked up a lot of rigging kit then headed for a little cliff. There we first rigged our incapacitated person. Then we had to rig for ourselves! And then we practised abseiling down to the dummy, making the dummy safe, putting them into what was referred to as a nappy harness (I don't think that is the official term), and then being lowered to the ground together with them. Things we found out were, for instance, how exactly you should rig the two IDs that the two ropes go to (one to the dummy and one to the barrow boy).
When several of us had given it a go it was time to join the others and have some lunch. And we even had someone bringing us cups of tea! That's the advantage of training at someone's headquarters.
After lunch we swapped around. Ed said he had never actually been in the stretcher, so instead of a dummy, he became our casualty. He decided he had a leg injury, so we practised putting him into the spinal board, the casualty bag, and then the stretcher, while being very careful with his leg. He was fully wrapped up! And then we pulled him vertical. And it was good we suspended him from a big tree, as it started to rain quite heavily, but we were protected. And when we were done, we did another round of debriefing, but it started to rain again, so we kept it brief.
A few days later we would have the AGM. It looks like the team is operating at full speed now! I do keep hoping, though, that we are never needed…
After the training I went to see my friends. It was absolutely lovely to see them! But when I left I decided I didn't need another night in the hills. I just went home. And I slept well in my own bed!
|Looking up at the people working the rig|
|The meeting me have been lowered to the ground; I then got away…|
|Putting Ed in a stretcher|
|Ed gets a good talking to from Dewi|