11 July 2010

Water rescue

A river, that’s just a cave without a roof, as a wise man once said. I repeated that statement once to a colleague, who immediately reposted: “what a worthless statement, it’s also just dry land without the absence of water, and I could go on like that”. True, but the initial statement had some practical truth in it: caves tend to be water-made, and the water is often still present. Those who routinely wander caves will be used to water. To walking through it, to swimming, to going through sumps, to abseiling down waterfalls and SRT-ing up again, to rigging and ropework and all in very wet conditions. And that makes them very useful in case of an emergency involving lots of water. Quite possibly, the mountain rescue teams are less familiar with soaking circumstances. So that’s why the cave rescue team also trains with water rescue. And such a training came up.

We gathered, and were atypically hoisting ourselves into wetsuits and drysuits and the likes. And to the river we went! And for the next few hours we were decoratively bobbing around in our colourful helmets. We started practicing throwing safety lines at each other- take care to never almost drown near me! My aim is crap. But we also practiced turning overturned kayakers back, swimming out to victims while being attached to a safety line, and being reeled back in, and releasing ourselves form a safety line in case it turned itself into a danger.

The kayak-overturning was the most photogenic aspect of the training!

We also touched upon how to act in all sorts of scenarios, and two-kayak rescue, and examples of how things had gone wrong in the past. And then they brought me back to glacier rescue! We got some practice reeling in a stuck kayak. And what does one need for that? Pulley systems! So immediately I thought back at the “hjelpetalje” and “z-talje” of Strupbreen. But such knowledge gets rusty! Anyway. We did a veritable tug-of-war with the kayak, which did it no good, and then it was time to swim back, change into civilian clothes, and retreat to the pub.

Water rescuers on the way to the pub

Attempt at arty-farty waterfall photo. And hurrah for waterproof cameras!

The pub is where all wild plans for the near future tend to be wrought. But this time I needed to let them pass me by! No underground activities for me for a while. Norway beckons!

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